An unreliable power grid, high costs of energy and frequent power outages have prompted the northern Saskatchewan village of Green Lake to flip the switch to solar energy.
"We're Métis, so we understand the use of nature and all that surrounds in order to find a way forward," Ric Richardson told CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend on Sunday.
The solar panels will be owned and operated by the village and will be installed later this month before their unveiling in May.
Richardson is the mayor of Green Lake.
He estimates there are about two or three outages per month in the northern Saskatchewan community.
Some of them are lengthy due to the landscape of the area, which includes forest and what he described as "rugged" terrain — a problem which is only exacerbated during the winter.
Richardson recalled one outage which lasted several hours when the temperatures were around –20 C.
"People were ultimately getting sick as a result of no proper heating in their home," he said.
Raising funds was one of the biggest challenges, Richardson said, adding the province helped with a portion of the costs. The community has received both public and private support from out of province.
The cost of the development has been about $137,000, Richardson said. The project itself has been years in the making, so the community has been able to raise enough funds to cover their portion of the costs, roughly $50,000.
The first phase will power the community centre with about 31 kilowatts of energy, Richardson estimates.