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Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala

Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…

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Renewable Energy Startup Powering Native American Protest Camp

BoxPower, a Princeton-based renewable energy startup, is powering the campsite of a Native American tribe protesting the construction of the Pilgrim oil pipeline.

Princeton entrepreneurs Angelo Campus and Aaron Schwartz are powering the off-grid protesters via solar panels, according to a new Forbes report. The company provided one of their one-off off-grid units to the protesters, which has the capacity to power five households and fits into a 20-foot shipping container. The units contain a solar array, batteries for storage, a wind-power unit, and a bio-diesel generator.

The company says its initial goal was to provide power to populations in need during disaster situations.

“By re-imagining energy infrastructure as modular, renewable, and distributed, we can democratize energy access — making it accessible for those who have been left behind by the traditional centralized energy grid,” Campus said. 

The 178-mile pipeline project drawing criticism from this tribe seeks to connect Albany, New York and Linden, New Jersey, offering an increased capacity of 200,000 barrels per day to the American pipeline system in the northeast—200,000 barrels of crude oil in one direction, and 200,000 barrels of refined products in the other.  

With the renewable, mobile power grid, the protestors can carry out its fossil fuel protests without using the fossil fuel themselves.

So far, the Lenape tribe’s protests have not reached the notoriety of the demonstrations against the Dakota Access pipeline over the past two years, but the battle is still intense. The Pilgrim Pipeline is currently waiting for permits from New York and New Jersey, and has not yet set a construction deadline. 

In other pipeline news, DAPL can continue shipping oil from North Dakota’s Bakken fields to Illinois despite continuing protests, U.S. district judge James Boasberg ruled this week in the latest chapter of the saga around the project. The US$3.8-billion, 470,000-bpd pipeline started carrying crude in May, and after the judge’s latest ruling will continue to do so at least until next April, while the Army Corps completes its environmental review. 

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By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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