THE POWER’S ON!
Waséyebek Development Company, LLC (WDC) and Skasgé Power (a subsidiary of WDC) are pleased to announce that the Pine Creek Reservation and FireKeepers Casino Hotel solar arrays are installed and fully functional! The installations are evidence of NHBP’s and WDC’s strategic initiative to participate in the renewable energy industry in a way that benefits the environment and the Tribe.
Skasgé Power, LLC, was originally formed by NHBP Tribal Council in 2011 and partnered with a company that held patents to a new, innovative solar/thermal panel design. The design ultimately proved to be non-viable, but Tribal Council held true to their word and moved Skasgé forward with their commitment to provide solar power to the Tribe and explore potential business opportunities in renewable energy. In 2014, ownership and management of Skasgé was transferred to the Tribe’s newly formed economic development company, WDC, for evaluation. The primary mission was to finish the panel installations that had been started and determine the potential profitability of a solar company.
The Pine Creek array was completed in April 2015, and consists of 48 panels, which convert energy from the sun into electricity that is stored for use by the Pine Creek Community Center. In addition, the panels have a thermal component that also pre-heats water used in the Community Center and saves on energy bills. Since WDC began tracking the output of the system in April 2015, the array system has produced 175.5 Mega Watt Hours (MWh) of electrical energy, which is the equivalent of 665 trees planted! A total of 570 units of thermal energy (therms) has been produced in that same time period.
The FireKeepers (FKC) project, which is much larger and more complex, and consists of 10 arrays with approximately 48 panels each, was completed in April 2016. The FKC system also produces electricity and thermal energy. The electricity is used by the FireKeepers Casino Hotel and the thermal component preheats water used in housekeeping at the same location. Since April 2016, the system has produced 86.99 MWh of electrical energy, which is equivalent to 3393 trees planted and a reduction in carbon dioxide gas of 59.98 tons! Another way to look at the power produced is that it could power 263,620 light bulbs for 24 hours. A total of 500 therms have been produced at FKC.
Both locations are exceeding predictions for electrical output. The thermal components of both arrays have not operated long enough to accurately measure performance against estimates at this time. Outputs are being tracked electronically and WDC plans to keep everyone apprised of the ongoing energy savings via the WDC & Skasgé websites (coming soon).
Due to pending U.S. and state political changes in the coming election year, and uncertainties surrounding the predictable positive economics of alternative energy, WDC has scaled back the operations of Skasgé. The plan forward is to explore niche markets requiring solar and to pause and evaluate a new direction that may involve other sources of renewable energy.
Congratulations to Tribal Council, Tribal Membership, WDC staff, Skasgé employees, contractors and suppliers for the successful completion of our renewable energy projects!