Elders’ Council Update on Energy Issues



Teresa Chilkowich, Arctic Energy Alliance’s (AEA’s) Dehcho Regional Energy Project Coordinator, presented to the Dehcho First Nations (DFN) Grand Chief, Herb Norwegian and 14 Elders from around the Dehcho territory during their recent Elders’ Council meeting held in Fort Simpson. During this session, Teresa provided information on:

  • recent decrease in hydro-electricity production in the North Slave region due to the low water levels following the severe drought and fire conditions this past year and the GNWT decision to commit $20 million to cover the cost of the additional diesel generation to make-up for the decreased hydro-electrical production;
  • NTPC’s proposed power line expansion that has been “shelved” due to the higher than expected costs to pursue any of the expansion options in the NWT Power Systems Plan (PSP);
  • NWT Energy Charrette held in November 2014,
  • the concept of Waste-Heat Recovery – excess heat generated through electricity production by NTPC diesel generators. She gave the examples of Fort Liard that is used by the Echo Dene School and Hamlet building and 3 Snowshoe Inn buildings in Fort Providence,
  • another example of “co-generation” highlighted through an explanation of the Dehcho office’s new BioLite Basecamp, a portable wood-fired grill that generates electricity and stores it in a battery so that small devices such as cameras, mobile phones, GPS units, can be charged through a USB port integrated into this very efficient “rocket stove” technology. While there was not enough time for the demonstration of the BioLite Basecamp to be fired up and show how a a small device could be charged up, Teresa looks forward to having the BioLite Basecamp on-hand at the upcoming DFN Leadership meeting for the Chiefs and Elders who gather in Fort Providence the 2nd week of February.

Following the presentation, many valuable questions were raised by the Elders in this session. A few examples are:

QUESTION: What is the potential for using Solar PV as a means of offsetting the decrease in hydro-electric production?
ANSWER: Solar PV is definitely an option to provide supplementary power to either a hydro or diesel generated electrical power production system.

QUESTION: What is the cost of installing Solar PV for a person’s home?
ANSWER: variable depending upon the size of the home & electricity usage, as well as whether the installation is in town (grid-tied) or at their cabin (off-grid) . This chart shows an estimate of costs:

  Community (grid-tied)  Cabin (off-grid)
Cost per Watt (W)   Up to $6/W    Up to $10/W 
# of solar panels    4 at 250 Watts    4 at 250 Watts
Extra items needed for off-grid -  batteries, charge controller, etc.
Warranty  25 years on solar panels 25 years on solar panels

NOTE:  a properly set up 1 kW system should produce about 1,000 - 1,100 kWh per year in your region.    2 kW = 2,000 – 2,200 kWh, etc. up to the maximum 5 kW net-meter amount of 5,000 – 5,500 kWh per year

QUESTION: Is there a need for any specific changes or special wiring in order to install Solar PV on a house?
ANSWER: No change to the existing house wiring is required for systems within a community for solar that is connected to your home, These grid-tied Solar PV installations DO require the Power Company to change the electricity meter, to a bi-directional meter, so that it can track the amount of electricity your solar panels produce and so that your meter can continue to measure the electricity you use.

For more information on installing Solar PV for your home or cabin, please feel free to call AEA 1-877-755-5855 or contact from the list "Distributors of Solar Products in the Northwest Territories", available on the AEA website

The top picture shows the Elder's Council and the lower picture shows Teresa with the BioLite Basecamp.