There were times over the last five years, when Chief Russell Myers Ross wondered whether his dream of creating a solar farm would ever become a reality.
There were studies and more studies, funding applications, community discussions and back and forth talks with BC Hydro and the provincial government. Then there were little hitches, such as deciding on the Riverwest Sawmill site, 80-kilometres west of Williams Lake, and then discovering that one parcel was partially owned by another company.
“We had to find a way to make it 100 per cent our ownership … It took $80,000 to sort of buy them out,” Myers Ross said.
Once construction started, with apprentices from the six Tsilhqot’in communities learning the trade, the weather refused to cooperate, even though the Chilcotin is among B.C.’s top five solar hotspots. Instead of the expected sun, torrential rains brought monsoon conditions to the area in July as construction workers tried to lay cables in muddy trenches.
“You feel like it’s never going to be done,” said Myers Ross, vice-chair of Tsilhqot’in National Government and chief of Yunesit’in First Nation.