Chief Roberta leads the way for Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in citizens at a gathering in Moosehide. (Submitted/Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in government)

Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in government eyes solar for Moosehide

‘I believe in the summer we might end up actually not using any diesel’

The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in government is investing in clean energy and has plans to install solar power by October.

The Yukon government issued a tender for contractors to bid on building a solar array at Moosehide Village. The project was identified by the First Nation as a priority, and is expected to cut approximately 5,000 litres of diesel per year.

“Apart from offsetting the fuel consumption, it also means a lot more environmental safety,” said Peter Marangu, director of housing and infrastructure for the First Nation.

“We have to transport the fuel over to Moosehide normally by boat, which adds to the risks of spills or things like that.”

The community is located a few kilometres downriver from Dawson City and hosts the biennial Moosehide Gathering. The traditional village was originally used as a seasonal hunting and fishing camp.

Founded in 1993, the gathering celebrates Hän culture and heritage and brings people together from across the territory and Alaska. Events like this are a reason the community is converting to clean energy, said Marangu.

The cost of the project is fully funded by the federal and territorial governments through the federal small communities fund. The territorial government will cover 25 per cent of the costs said Bonnie Venton Ross, a spokesperson for the department of community services.

The community is currently powered by diesel generators. TH residents have previously expressed concerns, outlined in Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in 2016 community plan, about the amount of noise and pollution the generators make. The First Nation has researched different renewable clean energy sources over the last four to five years. It has considered micro-hydro and wind energy, which Marangu said do not produce a consistent amount of electricity.

Moosehide is a peaceful place and solar energy is a quiet and safe option, he said.

“With the solar, during the active times and the amount of sunlight coming in there, it was a very good fit.”

The solar array will be installed on a community building used during the summer. It will include a battery, which will store extra energy produced by the array and further decrease the need to turn on the gas generators on sunny days.

The panels are expected to produce 16 kW of electricity per day. The battery storage can hold about four hours of energy.

“Right now at peak we are using about 14 kW … I believe in the summer we might end up actually not using any diesel, especially between May and September,” he said.

The project has involved many Moosehide elders, Marangu said. Approximately 20 people have worked on the project locally and within the Yukon government.

A site visit for bidders is scheduled for July 10.

Contact Kallan Lyons at kallan.lyons@yukon-news.com

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