Fort Yukon Goes Solar

Solar panels on Ft. Yukon Tribal Hall. CREDIT DAVID PELUNIS-MESSIER / TCC
Solar panels on Ft. Yukon Tribal Hall.
CREDIT DAVID PELUNIS-MESSIER / TCC

Ft. Yukon recently began operating a solar electric project. The system is testing integration of the energy source into the power grid of an isolated northern community.

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The regional Tanana Chiefs Conference and local Native Village Corporation are cooperating on the Ft. Yukon solar project, which went live last month. TCC rural energy Coordinator Dave Messier helped locals set up the system.

Like most rural Alaska villages Ft. Yukon’s power comes from generators fueled with expensive shipped in diesel, and Messier says the solar project is aimed at reducing that dependence.

During the sunny months of the year, Messier expects the panels, which went on line in mid- May, to produce more power than the Tribal Hall uses each month.

Messier calculates that the electricity produced from the solar array could offset 13 hundred gallons of diesel generated power annually, but cautions that adding a new energy source in the wrong proportion can result in an unbalanced load that reduces generator efficiency.

The solar project is combined with new LED’s lights and weatherization upgrades at the Tribal Hall, a total package that cost about a quarter million dollars, and was covered fifty, fifty by the tribe and a federal grant.