Decarbonise the Air, Recarbonise the Soil

In rainy Southeast Alaska, a village experiments with solar power

By STEPHANIE SHOR, Juneau Empire
POSTED: 11:04 AM AKST Dec 29, 2014 
Elk Hunter stands Dec. 26 in front of his home where he installed 16 solar panels on his roof almost two years ago. (Stephanie Shor photo)


KAKE — Isolated in the rainforest of Southeast Alaska, residents here are thinking of alternative energy. In that, they’re not unlike the inhabitants of any other rural Alaska community. What makes Kake special is the way it’s approaching the topic.
After exploring wind energy options in partnership with the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council in 2010, the Organized Village of Kake and five other Alaska Native communities received a U.S. Department of Energy grant for a different approach: solar power.
Kake installed 24 solar panels on its tribal government building in 2012.
“A consultant joked that solar power in a rainforest would be a real trick,” Gary Williams, the executive director of the Organized Village of Kake said. “But it works because of our microclimate here.”
Solar power requires less maintenance and infrastructure than windmills, and in the two years since the panels were installed, they’ve been more efficient in Kake than projections for wind power.
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