Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council - 2011 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council
Location: Anaktuvuk Pass, AK
Project Title: Energy Efficiency for Nunamiut People of Anaktuvuk Pass, AK
Type of Application: Deployment
DOE Grant Number: DE-EE0005181
Project Amounts:
DOE: $156,739
Awardee: $156,739
Total: $313,478
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 2011
End: December 2012

Summary

Under this project, the Yukon River Inter-tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC) will:

  1. Educate local community members, elders, and youth on the environmental and economic benefits of energy efficiency.

  2. Replace inefficient heating systems in three buildings with higher efficiency furnaces and toyo stoves.

    1. Replace 21 electric heaters in two buildings (ranging in size from 1.5 to 3.75 kW) with more efficient heating units.

    2. Replace existing forced-air furnace (65% AUFE) in Village store with high-efficiency boilers (having an AFUE of 90%).

  3. Replace or seal exterior doors and single-paned exterior windows with high-efficiency, high R-value doors and windows and add insulation to existing attic spaces.

  4. Caulk and seal points of air leakage in all buildings.

  5. Replace inefficient hot water supply systems with on-demand units.

  6. Retrofit outdated village store chillers and freezers with higher efficiency components and economizers.

  7. Replace electromagnetic T-12 fluorescent  lighting with T-8 electronic ballasts.

Efficiency upgrades will be made to four buildings in Anaktuvuk Pass Alaska, including the: 1) Manager's Dwelling; 2) Corporation Office and Hotel; 3) Restaurant; and 4) Village store. These retrofits, once implemented, are estimated to result in a 33.4% of energy costs.

Project Description

Background

The Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC) is an international organization with 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in the United States and Societal Status in Canada. As a coalition of sovereign Tribal and First Nation governments, the YRITWC was founded in 1997 by a group of 56 chiefs and elders who gathered in Galena, Alaska, to discuss ideas on how best to increase indigenous communities' resiliency amidst rising rates of cancer and other health problems in human communities and game species within the Yukon River watershed. Mining activities, military contamination, and industrial and residential solid waste were identified as the primary contributors to the declining environmental quality and human health in the region. From this gathering and based on these concerns, the Watershed Council was formed to restore the river and protect it from further contamination.

The long-term vision of the organization was articulated by those tribal leaders at the historic 1997 Summit in Galena: to "once again drink clean water directly from the Yukon River as our ancestors did for thousands of years before us."

Today, 70 of the 76 Indigenous governments within the watershed are actively participating in the coalition through the signing and enactment of an Inter-Tribal Accord that governs the Watershed Council and articulates commitments of the Tribes and First Nations that have signed the agreement. Noting that the indigenous communities are all connected and have a common interest in protecting the watershed, the accord commits the signatories to cooperate and consult with one another on all actions that could affect the environmental and cultural integrity of the region while respecting the sovereignty of each individual Tribe and First Nation. The YRITWC maintains offices in Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska, and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada, with a current staff of 12.

The Energy Department was formed in 2008 under the direction of the YRITWC leaders, specifically to build resiliency in their communities' ability to cope with rapidly increasing energy costs. The broad goals of the Energy Department are to:

  1. Research and develop alternative solutions to diesel electricity production

  2. Save energy and money

  3. Reduce pollution through expanded tribal energy education, training, baseline data collection, and implementation of conservation measures.

Since the establishment of the Energy Department, the YRITWC has become a state leader in rural renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. In 2008 it installed the nation's first in-stream hydrokinetic turbine in the Yukon River near Ruby, Alaska, a community dealing with electricity costs of $1/kWh.

In 2009 the YRITWC partnered with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center to integrate renewable energy into their innovative arctic housing design in the community of Anaktuvuk Pass, AK. The home was engineered to use less than a fifth of the energy used by other village homes, and it fostered the partnerships that allowed the YRITWC's grant application to come together. In 2010, we partnered with the native village of Nenana to retrofit its tribally owned Teen Recreation Center with programmable thermostats, solar PV, and solar thermal heating. The YRITWC has partnered with industry and nonprofit leaders throughout the state to hold energy efficiency, weatherization, and renewable energy trainings for community members. YRITWC is a resource for all of its communities that have questions on energy-related issues, and it serves as a vocal advocate of village efficiency measures and projects to lower the cost of living in rural Alaska.

Project Objectives

Project Goals:

  1. To increase awareness about the benefits of energy efficiency to the North Slope Borough, rural villages in the Yukon River Basin, and energy consumers statewide

  2. To lower operating costs for Nunamiut Village Corporation, which serves the Naqsraqmiut Tribe in Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska

  3. To collect data and log results from new methods of energy efficiency

Long-Term Tribal Energy Vision:

Anaktuvuk Pass is home to some of the harshest weather events in the United States. Temperatures routinely dip below -50F in the winter and above 85F during the summer months. Winter winds are so fierce that a snow barrier has been erected across the eastern edge of town to help reduce snowdrifts in the village. This area has sustained the Nunamiut people for thousands of years, but over the past decade, increasing energy costs have put a severe strain on villages that were built in the 1970s and 1980s, when energy was cheap and plentiful.

The long-term tribal energy vision of the Nunamiut people of the Naqsraqmiut Tribe in Anaktuvuk Pass is to:

"Survive and Exist with as minimal an impact as possible on the land, the air and the water that sustains our families our food and our traditional way of life"

Project Scope

The project will entail a variety of efficiency upgrades to four buildings in Anaktuvuk Pass. This work includes:

  1. Replacing inefficient or outdated exterior windows and doors

  2. Adding blow-in cellulose Insulation to existing attic spaces

  3. Replacing water heaters with on-demand units

  4. Replacing electric heaters with reliable, inexpensive, high-efficiency oil-fired heaters

  5. Replacing and measuring the impact of HVAC cooling systems to utilize ambient air temperatures for cooling and freezing

  6. Data logging results at every stage and presenting the findings to the tribe and its many partnering organizations statewide.

Project Location

The YRITWC is an international organization with 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in the United States and Societal Status in Canada. As a coalition of sovereign Tribal and First Nation governments, it was founded in 1997 by a group of 56 chiefs and elders who gathered in Galena, Alaska, to discuss ideas on how best to increase indigenous communities' resiliency amidst rising rates of cancer and other health problems in human communities and game species within the Yukon River watershed. From this gathering and based on these concerns, the Watershed Council was formed to restore the river and protect it from further contamination.

All of the buildings are located in Anaktuvuk Pass within one mile of each other.  Anaktuvuk Pass is a remote village located in the middle of Brooks Range, Alaska, and only accessible via Bush Plan (year round) or snow machine (October–April).

Project Status

The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's fiscal year 2010 funding opportunity announcement "Energy Efficiency Development and Deployment in Indian Country" (DE-FOA-0000423) and started September 30, 2011.

The November 2011, October 2012, and March 2014 project status reports provide more information.

For current project status or additional information, please contact the project contact(s).

Project Contact

Dave McGraw
Finance
907-451-2530
dmcgraw@yritwc.org
323 2nd St. Unit A
Fairbanks, AK 99701

David Pelunis-Messier
Energy Manager
907-978-1866
dpelunis-messier@yritwc.org
323 2nd St. Unit A
Fairbanks, AK 99701