Skasgé Power Company (A subsidiary of Waséyabek Development Company) Completes Solar Installation at Firekeepers Casino Hotel

Sep 1, 2016

Changes are happening quickly at Skasgé Power, LLC. Those changes are a recent award from Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the resignation from the General Manager of Skasgé.

To this date, Skasgé has now received $360,000 from MEDC. This most recent award gave them an additional $200,000 for re-engineering, equipment and training for FireKeepers Casino Hotel Solar array site. Skasgé has built and nurtured relationships with engineering firms, vendors, contractors, sub-contractors, local governments and other organizations to bring the Skasge demonstration project and FireKeepers Casino Hotel prototype project from the concept stage, through the installation stages, and to the commissioning stages of development.

Skasgé recruited and organized a dedicated and diverse team of both Tribal Members and non, to form the Skasgé labor force. Skasgé formed alliances within NHBP to aid Skasgé with administrative and human relations services. They identified, secured and managed state grants to aid Skasgé with startup, operating and training costs as well as identified and implemented necessary employee training programs in the areas of safety, equipment care and use, and general solar systems installation. Skasgé also identified and joined several professional organizations to form a wide reaching networking system that includes both local and national affiliates including Michigan Small Business Technology Development Center (MSBTDC), MEDC, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), etc.

Skasgé Demonstration Project: Pine Creek Reservation

  • Coordinated and supervised the installation of a hybrid solar power application combining the technology of the Power Panel, PV/Tsolar module and the Skasgé Power, LLC solar tracker.

Skasgé Prototype Project: FireKeepers Casino Hotel

  • Coordinated and supervised the prototype development stages of the Skasgé solar tracker application with the installation of 10 units at FireKeepers Casino This Project is also reaching the final stages. The recent award of $200,000 will help this project reach the final stage.
  • Research and Development
    • Thermal Collection and Delivery System:
      • Redesigned and implemented improved insulated supply and return piping system to stabilize the effects of changing temperature This also allowed for easier assembly and installation that enabled in-house building of these systems.
      • A moving platform required a much more robust water swivel joint to effectively deliver the thermal fluid to and from the solar panels We researched and replaced original plastic swivel joints with a much more durable commercial grade joint.

Currently, we are testing a new pump module design at the Pine Creek array that will better perform under the rigorous climate conditions that challenge us in Michigan and other northern latitudes.

Controls: As these tracking systems have developed we discovered a larger and larger need for improved process control and monitoring capabilities. To that end we have made vast changes to improve the control capabilities of our trackers. We researched, designed and installed a new computer controlled system that is much more easy to use. It allows for future expansion capabilities and allows for Web based monitoring and alarm notifications. We have also installed new sensors that are more accurate, rigorous and versatile for better control and monitoring.

Skasgé is in the process of converting all pump motors from DC power to AC power for greater efficiency, better reliability and lower We changed the Pine Creek tracking drive control system from a compass based positioning design to an encoder based design for much greater accuracy and repeatability. We have also standardized our control component scheme to be able to utilize readily available, UL listed parts that allows for a more user-friendly platform for our customers and allows for modular type expansion.

Skasgé enlisted the services of Syntech Development, Inc. (a software development company) to assist us with designing a Web based monitoring system that can be accessed from anywhere and provides real time monitoring of the entire system and provides alarm notifications if there is a problem.

Energy Storage: Our experience has shown an increased need to be able to store energy for use when needed as opposed to when it is produced. We are currently working with Matrix Consulting Engineers, out of Lansing, Ml, to assist us with energy storage solutions and heat transfer designs in order to better utilize the energy we are collecting at the Fire Keepers Casino Hotel project.

The improvement process is constantly ongoing and this list only contains a few of the larger points of our research. Daily we find things that can be done more efficiently or more reliably in an effort to reduce costs and provide a better product.

“Skasgé’s journey from the beginning has been and will continue to be a learning process. Upon perfection, Skasgé will introduce itself to the marketing world,” says Paula Stuck, Skasgé Executive Assistant. “We are honored and blessed to be able to give back to the Tribe and the community.”

Tony Day, General Manager of Skasgé has announced that he will be resigning from Skasgé. Day has poured the foundation for Skasgé; consequently because of his dedicated service and position as a Tribal Council Member, it does not allow him to dedicate himself full time to the position. A new General Manager will be appointed shortly after the resignation of Day goes into effect.

“Even though Tony [Day] is resigning, he will always be part of Skasgé and a “Kche Migwéch” (Big or Grand Thanks) to the Tribal Council for their vision of Skasgé for this generation and the next seven generations,” said Paula Stuck, Skasgé Executive Assistant.

“I would like to say Migwéch to our Tribal Council and the newly formed Waséyabek Development Company Board for having the courage and vision to move forward with our Tribe’s non-gaming economic diversification. I would like to thank them for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the foundation for the Tribe’s first attempt at non-gaming economic diversification. I would like to wish them future success to Skasgé staff, Tribal Council and Waséyabek Development Company Board. I believe it is our goal to secure our Tribe’s economic success for the next seven generations,” Day said.

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