The Oceti Sakowin Power Authority is an independent, non-profit, governmental entity formed to jointly develop Tribal renewable energy resources by financing, developing, constructing and operating power generation and transmission facilities for the wholesale market. The OSPA is managed by a Board of Directors comprised of a representative from each of the Member Tribes. The Member Tribes have empowered the OSPA to hire professional management and to negotiate and execute deals with world-class developers and operators. This allows the Tribes to “go big” and develop over a gigawatt of green power financed by the OSPA through the issuance of power revenue bonds, guaranteeing the Tribes ownership interest in the power generation and transmission system and that the Tribes will share appropriately in the proceeds.
The public power authority model ensures that surplus revenue is distributed to the Member Tribes. It also requires that such surplus revenues be used for “municipal purposes,” ensuring that the revenue will be reinvested into the Tribes and surrounding territories in infrastructure development and other economic development projects.
The Oceti Sakowin Power Authority is an independent, non-profit, governmental entity formed to jointly develop Tribal renewable energy resources
While a new concept in Indian Country, municipal power authorities are well-established regional solutions to public energy needs – over 30 states have joint powers authorities or public power districts that provide retail and/or wholesale electric service. A joint powers authority of this scale, however, has not been done for almost 30 years in the United States and has never been done for Tribal power projects before. While the OSPA is based on the successful public power models that exist in other jurisdictions throughout the US, it has been adapted to the unique status of the Tribes as sovereign nations, and is modeled after governing bodies that have already been placed in operation by several of the participating Tribes.
The OSPA was established in June 2015 as a “Section 17 corporation” – that is, a federally-chartered entity formed under Section 17 of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. As such, the OSPA has the same tax-exempt status as the Member Tribes that have formed it and will be able to waive sovereign immunity without impacting the sovereign immunity of the individual Member Tribes. The OSPA is able to issue power revenue bonds backed solely by the credit of the power purchase agreements that it will negotiate and execute with the federal government, utilities or other large power users.