Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation administration building goes solar

The First Nation in Mayo is finally doing what's been planned for years - installing dozens of solar panels on its office to 'reflect our vision and ethics as stewards of the land.'

Move to alternative energy meant to 'reflect our vision and ethics as stewards of the land'

The First Nation is installing 88 solar panels on the roof of its administration building. (Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation/Facebook)

Mayo, Yukon, does not see a lot of sunshine through the depths of winter. But in summer, it's a different story — with almost round-the-clock daylight.

That's why the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation is banking on solar power to cut its power bills and its carbon footprint through the summer months. It's installed an array of solar panels on the roof of its administrative building.

"With a building of this size, we needed to be cost efficient," said Joella Hogan, the First Nation's heritage manager.

Joella Hogan, heritage manager for the First Nation, says alternative energy was always part of the plan for the building. (Submitted by Joella Hogan)

The building was first planned in the early 2000s, she said, and the idea was always to find alternative sources of energy, to "reflect our vision and ethics as stewards of the land."

"This year there was an opportunity that came up for us to put the solar panels on the roof... finally."

Sid Smarch, who's in charge of infrastructure for the First Nation, said the 88 panels can produce about 27 kW of energy on a peak day. 

That won't be enough to power the building year-round. There's no system to store the energy for the darker months. But, some days, there may be enough power to be fed into the grid, Smarch said.

"We're actually working with Yukon Energy to put a meter in our building that will measure energy both going in and coming out of our building. So we'll be able to get energy rebates through that," he said.

The First Nation had also planned to explore geothermal energy options, but Hogan said that idea hit some "roadblocks and just some technical challenges."

"So right now, solar will be where we're focusing and hopefully we'll be able to get back on track with geothermal."

The First Nation hopes to earn energy rebates by feeding any surplus power into the grid. (Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation/Facebook)

With files from Leonard Linklater