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Project Profile: Hughes Solar and Storage Project, Alaska

Five men standing in front of the Hughes solar-diesel microgrid.

The Hughes solar-diesel microgrid has 120 kilowatt hour (kwh) or lithium-ion battery storage. The battery that will be installed by September 2020 possesses 250 kW worth of output and 337 kwh total capacity.

Source: Credit to Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC)


Hughes, Alaska

Project Sponsor / Borrower

Hughes Village/Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC)

Program Areas

Public-Private Partnerships Project Finance Value Capture

Value Capture Techniques

Right-of-Way Use Agreements; Special Assessment


Other: Solar Power


Due to its location 210 air miles northwest of Fairbanks, the Native Village of Hughes, Alaska relied heavily on diesel fuel delivered via air and boat for all of its non-harvested commodities. To eliminate this dependence on imported fossil fuels, Hughes created the Sustainable Solar Energy for Hughes Village project.

Hughes set a goal to reduce its fuel use by 50 percent over 2010 levels by 2025. The project also included a replicable photovoltaic (PV)-diesel hybrid electric system to be deployed in Alaska Native villages across the State. The system was designed to:

  • Increase tribal energy security and tribal resilience, producing an approximate 30-percent reduction in fuel use for electricity production in the community.
  • Implement a financial model that allowed for tribal ownership of such a system while not negatively affecting the payments to the community through the State of Alaska Power Cost Equalization (PCE) Program.

In 2019, Hughes finished installing the 120-kilowatt (kW) solar PV array in conjunction with a lithium ion battery bank. The system supplies electricity to the local village electric grid and also offers electricity for the 50 buildings with electric meters in Hughes. It is the largest solar PV array installed in a rural Alaskan community to-date, and it allows the community to run solely on solar power during the summer when solar production peaks.


$1.12 million

Funding Sources
  • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) – $623,900
  • Hughes Village Council and Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) – $500,000
Project Delivery / Contract Method


Private Partner


Project Advisors / Consultants
  • Edwin Bifelt (Energy Contractor), Alaska Native Renewable Energy Industries – Project Manager


Duration / Status

The project's conception was in August 2016 with construction of the solar array complete in June 2019. The project's projected lifespan is 20 years.

Financial Status / Financial Performance

In September 2016, the DOE Office of Indian Energy provided $623,900 in grant funding for the Hughes Village Council's "Sustainable Solar Energy for Hughes Village" project. The DOE grant supplements the Council's contribution of $500,000 for the project, which aims to cut the Village's annual diesel use by 25 percent.

  • Deploy community-scale energy generating system(s) on tribal lands
  • Joint effort between the Hughes Tribal Council, the City of Hughes, TCC, and the selected system designers and equipment providers working together that made this happen
  • Annual savings: 30 percent reduction in fossil fuel use
    • Average savings of 510,000 gallons
    • Average savings of $65,000 over the project's 20-year lifespan
  • PV-diesel hybrid electrical system methodology can be replicated in other rural villages
  • A financial model that optimizes the community's benefit from the integration of solar PV and the State's Power Cost Equalization program
  • Able to complete project using 100 percent local labor
Related Links / Articles – Can Solar Work in Alaska? – Hughes Village Council – 2016 Project

Tanana Chiefs Conference Presentation

Tanana Chiefs Conference – Hughes


Dave Messier
Tanana Chiefs Conference, Rural Energy Coordinator

Construction crew building the Hughes solar power array.
Source: Credit to Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC)
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