The six communities of the Tŝilhqot’in Nation in British Columbia are looking ahead to better electricity access and C$175,000 in annual revenue after completing construction of a solar farm west of Williams Lake that is expected to generate 1.5 gigawatt-hours per year for the BC Hydro grid.
“Energy and electricity has been lacking out in the territory for a long time,” said  Chief Joe Alphonse, “so we welcome the opportunity for business and to improve the well-being of our people.”
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“There were challenging hurdles to get this project to the point of completion, but I am happy to see that the solar farm is ready to offer electricity to the region and provide revenue for the Tŝilhqot’in Nation,” added Myers Ross, vice-chair of the Tŝilhqot’in National Government.
In a presentation last year for Clean Energy British Columbia, the community underscored the limited energy access it has had to contend with until now. “The Chilcotin region is served by a weak, 250-kilowatt power line that runs from Williams Lake to Tatla Lake,” Tŝilhqot’in Economic Opportunities Coordinator Dolly Kershaw wrote  in a presentation. “The low capacity of the grid throttles economic activities and must be supplemented by diesel generators.”
The solar site on the grounds of the Riverwest Sawmill, a brownfield site designated for heavy industrial use, is located about 80 kilometres outside Williams Lake. It’s expected to be connected to the provincial grid by the end of next month, CBC says, and will generate enough electricity to power 135 average homes.