I often tell the Tribe of Blondes that it’s not a hair color but a resilient, optimistic spirit that unites us and fuels our adventures. In that spirit, the Southern Ute Tribe has married environmental optimism and American capitalistic ambition to develop a new business and biofuel. Find out how you may benefit from the way this Tribe values success and love.
How does a Tribe align its values with its investments?
By making decisions now that make life better for us and future generations. Compare those tribal values with most businesses, which worry only about the bottom line for the next quarter.
Our children’s children may reap benefits from the success of a business venture between the Southern Ute Indian Tribe in Southwest Colorado and a local Professor who have combined resources to create a renewable energy source through a startup company named Solix Biofuels.
The New York Times reported that Solix has twin goals of making fuel from algae and reducing emissions of heat-trapping gasses.
Solix Co-founder is Colorado State University Professor Bryan Wilson, who introduced a strain of algae that loves carbon dioxide (CO2) into a water tank placed next to a natural gas processing plant that emits CO2.
This neighborly placement of the algae tank is designed for access to the CO2 waste stream which will be used to nourish the Solix algae. It’s a kind of biological recycling of CO2 before its discharge into the atmosphere as the vegetable fuel is burned.
What are other potential benefits of this business venture?
The gas-processing plant also produces waste heat which can be used to warm the neighboring algae beds in winter.
Another benefit of the Solix placement in the high desert plateau of southwest Colorado is it’s one of the sunniest spots in the nation, providing solar radiation that accelerates algae growth.
To Southern Ute tribal leaders, this business model is about more than business. “It’s a marriage of an older way of thinking into a modern time,” said tribe Chairman, Matthew J. Box, referring to the interplay between environmental consciousness and investment opportunity around algae.
Mr. Box told the NY Times that his 1,400 member Tribe has a long history of using herbal medicine–which made growing algae for fuel an appealing investment that is aligned with tribal values.
How much did they invest in this biofuel business?
The Tribe contributed almost a third of the $20 million in capital raised by Solix, plus free use of tribal land for the project and over $1 million in equipment. The Tribe views it as a long-term investment that could be the next billion dollar energy boom.
How will the Solix business model be a success?
The hope is that power plants and other types of factories that vent carbon dioxide will allow Solix to build an algae farm next to their carbon dioxide vent pipes.
The plant could then sell the oil or biodiesel fuel created as the algae eat the CO2.
And Solix would earn its return by being part owner and operator or by licensing the technology, possibly on a commercial scale throughout the Western United States.
What about their competition?
More than 200 other companies (including Exxon oil) are trying to find a cost-effective way to achieve the same goal of turning algae into vegetable oil fuel, according to the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado.
A Lab manager, Al Darzins, said that the Solix method is different from most–in the vertical alignment of algae in water tanks to increase yield. Mr. Darzins said that the success of this interesting idea will depend on whether it works at what cost. “It’s all going to come down to the economics.”
What’s the payoff for the Tribe’s aligning its values with its investments?
Southern Utes is one of the nation’s wealthiest communities of American Indians thanks to its energy and real estate investments. Its debt has received the highest Triple A rating, assigned by Karl Jacob, the Standard & Poors executive.
Jacobs said the Tribe had proved a canny investor by doing its homework and not moving too fast. He concluded, “They have always been prudent, looking out into the next generation.”
Do you align your values with your investment choices?
How could the Tribe Of Singles model these values while choosing a romantic partner and creating a healthy relationship with lasting love?