How Indigenous Communities are Building Energy Sovereignty
By Natalie Peart
August 18, 2021
On the Hawaiian island of Moloka’i, residents—many of whom are Native Hawaiian—pay a high price for electricity: $0.41 per kilowatt hour compared to the United States average of $0.13. Though Moloka’i residents use the least energy of all the Hawaiian Islands, they are saddled with the greatest expense. This energy inequality has led the community to try and gain more control over how their energy is sourced and distributed.
The Moloka’i are one of many Indigenous groups around the U.S. making inroads toward energy sovereignty. But the approach and methods differ depending on communities’ belief systems, landscapes, and local politics. For two rural cooperatives in Hawai‘i and New Mexico, energy sovereignty means taking actions toward decentralizing resources, increasing solar power plus storage, and centering community and the land in the process.