NNSL Photo/Graphic

Canadian North

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Lutsel K'e psyched on solar power
Band set to become the first independent power producer in the NWT with 35 kilowatt solar farm

Cody Punter
Northern News Services
Published Friday, December 12, 2014

The Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation (LKDFN) is on its way to becoming the first independent power producer in the NWT with the recent installation of a 35 kilowatt solar farm.

NNSL photo/graphic

Lustel K'e will become the first independent power producer in the NWT when its 35 kilowatt solar farm comes online in the new year. - Cody Punter/NNSL photo

"This has been a very exciting project for Lutsel K'e," wrote senior administrative officer Agatha Laboucan in an e-mail to News/North. "This is a big step for our future and our young peoples future shifting by starting to use renewable energy to power our community."

The LKDFN band council has been working on getting the solar farm installed since conducting a feasibility study in conjunction with the territorial government and the Arctic Energy Alliance last summer.

Since then, three rows of solar panels which occupy a site that is approximately 1,296 square metres have been installed across from the band office.

Once the system is up and running in the new year, the panels will tap into the existing power grid and be used to supplement the existing diesel power provided by the Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC).

"Essentially, Lutsel K'e will sell power to the Power Corporation and they will distribute that power over the local grid," stated Laboucan. "This is new territory for us and for NTPC, so we are working together to come to a fair agreement."

According to Sudhir Jha, regional manager of community infrastructure planning with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, the solar farm will offset the demand for electricity in the community by as much as 20 per cent when it is operating at full capacity during the summer.

"This solar farm will provide many benefits to the community and the environment by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions and offsetting diesel fuel use," said Jha.

The entire system cost $330,000 to build with $130,000 of that money being paid by the band. The remaining funding came from a combination of the GNWT, the federal government and green energy company Bullfrog Power.

The solar farm is expected to start producing power on Jan. 26, 2015.

Laboucan said savings will not be immediately passed on to consumers as "there may be some technical or mechanical things to fine tune."

However she is hopeful that residents will start to reap the benefits of the new system once the kinks have been worked out.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.