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Pilar Thomas Quoted in Bloomberg Law Article About Tribal Microgrid Energy Projects

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Pilar Thomas, a Quarles & Brady partner in the Indian Law & Policy Practice Group, provided insight for a Bloomberg Law article on the challenges tribes are facing in getting federal funding for microgrid energy projects.

The article delves into the potential benefits of tribal microgrid projects and also addresses issues tribes have had accessing federal funding that theoretically is available as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act enacted in 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act enacted in 2022.

Thomas, based in the firm’s Tucson, Ariz., office, addressed this situation. An excerpt:

“I do see real opportunities to use less energy, use your own energy, and have a lot of federal support for that,” said Pilar Thomas, a partner at Quarles & Brady LLP who advises tribes on renewable energy project development.

Thomas, a former top official in DOE’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, said the department was asking too much of communities by requiring a two-step application process—concept papers followed by a full application.

Only two or three tribes applied for the agency’s $1 billion Rural and Remote Communities program launched this year, Thomas estimated, far fewer than other similar federal programs.

“They made it more difficult than it had to be,” Thomas said. “It’s going to slow down deployment, and, in the end, probably not be as effective as it maybe could’ve been.”


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