One Saskatchewan village hopes to become a trail blazer in the province by investing in green energy.
The northern village of Green Lake, roughly 210 km north-west of Prince Albert, has built solar panels on the roof of its community centre.
“We’re trying to break trail,” Mayor Ric Richardson said. “We know it was just a matter of someone doing it first. We’re really honoured to be the ones that are.”
While the panels have been installed, electrical work still needs to be done. Richardson said the community has dreamed of going to renewable energy for “decades.”
He said the community, which bills itself as a village “steeped in the rich history of First Nations and Metis people,” is going back to their roots.
“Our traditional knowledge and ways included understanding that we are a part of nature. We used nature in many ways, including the sun over time immemorial,” Richardson said. “People would dry berries and meat… even clothes using the sun, it’s not that big of a leap to go into power generation now that that option is available.”
Solar and wind were both discussed when the idea of going renewable first came up. Rasmussen said based on Green Lake’s location, solar was the more feasible option because the sun shines more than the wind blows.
The idea of going green was also brought about to save money on power bills according to Tina Rasmussen, the village’s Municipal Administrator.
She said by installing a 31 kilowatt system on top of the community center, the Village of Green Lake hopes to save between $5,000 and $7,000 a year depending on rates from SaskPower.
Rasmussen said the project’s funding came from a number of sources. With a total bill of roughly $136,000 the village will pick up $40,000.
“We’re hoping our $40,000 can be repaid to the municipality within seven, eight years,” Rasmussen said. “We basically almost eliminate th
e power bill at community hall.”
A grant proposal was submitted to the Canada 150 project for $56,000. Participation in SaskPower’s net metering program allows for a grant of up to $20,000 which Rasmussen said the village hopes to receive in full. Bullfrog Power, from Ontario donated $20,000 to the project as well.
Expansion is being considered according to both Rasmussen and Richardson.
“We’re eagerly awaiting how the system works, but we are also currently looking at expansion to include other municipal structures,” Richardson said. “As well as the potential for creating a solar farm within the community… we have a large amount of cleared land for farm and not all of it is being used.”
The Village of Green Lake is hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 24, when the newly powered community center will be officially unveiled.
On twitter: @BryanEneas
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