CHEWEY, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation is providing an eco-friendly boost to the Neighborhood Association of Chewey in Adair County through the installation of rooftop solar panels on the community building, which are expected to lower utility costs by as much as 90 percent.

The installation is part of the $30 million Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act created by Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner in 2019. Under the Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act, $30 million has been set aside to help Cherokee citizens with housing repairs and to upgrade Cherokee community buildings with connectivity and sustainability projects such as solar power, HVAC systems and Wi-Fi connectivity.

“We’ve invested essential funding to repair individual Cherokee homes and improve community buildings across the Cherokee Nation Reservation through the Housing, Jobs, and Sustainable Communities Act,” Chief Hoskin said. “Now we are installing rooftop solar panels at Cherokee community buildings in an effort to reduce their energy bills and carbon footprint. It’s important for the Cherokee Nation to continue to be good stewards of the environment. We can protect our people and help preserve our natural world by investing in improvements like these solar panels.”

Over the lifetime of the solar panels and subsequent reduction of utility costs at the Chewey community building, the savings will be equivalent to taking three vehicles off of the road, planting more than 10,600 trees, saving more than 444,000 pounds of coal, and saving 961 barrels of oil.

District 7 Tribal Councilor Canaan Duncan recently met with Steven Sands, president of the Neighborhood Association of Chewey, to celebrate the beginning of construction on the energy-efficient project.

“This is the second solar panel project we have here in Adair County through the Cherokee Nation’s Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities initiative,” Councilor Duncan said. “Essentially, it’s going to provide for a much lower utility cost, and also for a much greener operation throughout the community. It’s an advantage for everyone in the communities and the entire Cherokee Nation to see these solar panels being installed.”

The solar project is distributed through the tribe’s Community & Cultural Outreach sustainability grant, which is meant to fund green-friendly efforts and other cost-saving renewable energy technology in Cherokee community buildings across the tribe’s 14-county reservation.

“The advantages of having the solar panels mainly is that it is expected to cover up to 90 percent of the electric bill,” said Sands. “And with COVID the way it is, we haven’t been able to have our monthly fund raising events, so the savings will help us out tremendously.”

So far, the tribe has also assisted Mid County Community Organization in Adair County, Native American Fellowship Inc. in Nowata County, and Tri-Community Association in Cherokee County with rooftop solar panel installation.