U.S. Department of Energy

    Sioux Students Kindle Solar Knowledge

    July 31, 2013

    It started with a spark—an interest in green energy. This glimmer of curiosity led Lyle Wilson, an instructor at Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota and U.S. Army veteran, to start researching renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, and geothermal. Now sparked by Lyle’s interest, members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation are finding new possibilities in their clean energy capabilities.

    As part of his work at Oglala Lakota College, Lyle works with students in the applied sciences department to construct houses for members of the tribe. He envisioned taking the work a step further by integrating solar panels into new homes to help reduce power bills. To make it happen, Lyle reached out to Solar Energy International (SEI), which helps coordinate solar training courses for the Energy Department’s Solar Instructor Training Network.

    From there, a group of students and instructors at the college signed on for SEI's Photovoltaic (PV) 101: Solar Design and Installation course, in which they set up their first grid-tied photovoltaic system. This introduction served as fuel for their solar fire. Next, about 20 people took part in SEI's PV 203: Solar Electric Design (Battery-Based) class. This course allowed them to install two 250-watt solar panels on their construction trailer. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.