Energy Upgrades for Yurok Buildings

Evaluating Yurok PV Installation

Jim Zoellick uses a solar pathfinder to measure the shading on a PV array on a Yurok Tribal office building. (Photo credit SERC).

SERC is playing a key role in helping the Yurok Tribe of northern California add renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvements to their Tribal office buildings. As we reported in our fall 2010 newsletter, the Tribe is installing a solar electric system on their Weitchpec office and implementing energy efficiency upgrades in the Weitchpec building as well as their Klamath office. Measures include air sealing and improved lighting and HVAC controls.

The work, including SERC’s participation, is being funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Some good news: the recent drop in solar module prices has allowed the Tribe to scale up the solar project to 15.7 kW AC, some 15% larger than they had budgeted for. In total, the project is expected to save or generate about $8,500 worth of energy per year.

As the project nears completion, the solar and energy efficiency contractors have finished their installations, allowing us to inspect their work and conduct performance tests. We are also helping the Tribe to develop staff training and interpretive materials, including a real-time solar energy production display for the Weitchpec office’s lobby.

Tribal staff and community members we have spoken with are happy with the improvements to their facilities. “It’s been very exciting to be a part of a project that reflects some of the most basic principles of tribal culture – sustainability and resource management,” said tribal planner Sophia Lay. “We’re very grateful for the support provided by SERC staff.”