First Nations’ leadership in British Columbia’s renewable energy future: Finding a path forward

The Pembina Institute released a report today on First Nations in the renewable energy industry. It projects that an electricity demand increase in the range of 10.9 TWh to 19.1 TWh by 2030 is required to meet BC’s GHG reduction targets − a 19% to 33% increase in BC’s current electricity consumption. The report emphasizes the vital role of First Nations-owned and partnered clean energy in supplying this growth in demand.

According to the report, prioritizing First Nation clean energy projects is consistent with the self-sufficiency requirement in BC’s Clean Energy Act as well as the call for the creation of new economic avenues for First Nations in BC’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA).

The Pembina Institute says the Province of BC’s existing policies  – the Clean Energy Act, the Climate Change Accountability Act and CleanBC – provide the basis for achieving electrification needed to reach net zero by 2050. However, implementation is required. This includes providing clear mandates to BC Hydro and the BC Utilities Commission to increase electrification to meet the targets.

In its long-range plan, BC Hydro is currently forecasting a fairly static level of electricity demand with a wide “uncertainty band” that does not provide the certainty needed to invest in building electricity supply in general, let alone in partnership with First Nations. Site C, scheduled to begin operations in 2025, will not provide sufficient electricity to meet the need. Nor is importing US electricity on the spot market beneficial for BC’s economy.