No more power outages? Inuvik man installs Tesla's 1st 'Powerwall' in the North

There won’t be any more power outages for Vince Sharpe, a resident of Inuvik, N.W.T.

Vince Sharpe spent $26K for his home's new backup battery

Jake Kubiski (left), owner of Kuby Energy in Edmonton, Alta., installed the Tesla Powerwall at Vince Sharpe's house in Inuvik, N.W.T., this week with a co-worker. (Submitted by Vince Sharpe)

There won't be any more power outages for Vince Sharpe, a resident of Inuvik, N.W.T.

At least for up to 36 hours, thanks to the capacity of his new Powerwall — Tesla's backup battery source that stores energy for homes. 

Sharpe got it installed this week in his home, which already has 42 solar panels on his roof since two years ago. He says he's now "totally 100 per cent energy self-sufficient."

As his solar panels are connected to the community grid, he produces energy during the summer that is being stored by the Northwest Territories Power Corporation. It's then being given back to him during winter months. This system is called net metering.

"It's like putting power in the bank," says Sharpe.

Sharpe's laundry room wall is torn up as he upgrades the panels to work with the new Powerwall. (Submitted by Vince Sharpe)

He says his new battery, hung on his wall, will produce 13.5 kWh and help keep essential things running in his house during a power outage. Sharpe says he once had a power outage that lasted up to 14 hours.

Sharpe is the first northern resident to get the Tesla Powerwall.

"The next most northerly one would be in Fort McMurray," says Amy Choi, the director of marketing at MPOWER Energy Solutions, the certified installer of the Tesla Powerwall in Canada.

Choi says her company has installed 67 Powerwall batteries in Canada in the past year and a half.

An Edmonton-based company, Kuby Energy, came this week to Sharpe's home for the installation and to rewire parts of his power system.

It took two days. "It's all working good now," says Sharpe. "It looks very good on the wall, it's almost like a piece of furniture."

Tesla's product 'Powerwall' unveiled on stage in Hawthorne, Calif., on April 30, 2015. (Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press)

Costs thousands of dollars

Sharpe spent about $9,000 for the Powerwall and $17,000 for the installation.

He says he finally bought the Tesla product because the company doubled the capacity of its battery last year.

Thanks to his solar equipment, Sharpe doesn't pay power bills anymore — just around $18 per month to be connected to the community grid.

Sharpe says he hopes his solar panels will "eventually pay off the Powerwall."

Two years ago, he spent $33,000 dollars for his solar panels and says he already got back $9,000.

Many people once told him solar energy wouldn't work in the North, he says. "But I proved them wrong."

In terms of power, he says there is nothing more he can do with his house.

Having a self-sufficient energy home is "a huge selling point," but he's not ready to sell it just yet.

With files from Joanne Stassen