First Nations and Renewable Energy Development in British Columbia




Cook, Dana
Fitzgerald, Eryn
Sayers, Judith
Shaw, Karena

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Although First Nations in British Columbia are active participants in the renewable energy sector, very little research has been conducted to assess the scope and implications of their involvement. Seeking to address this knowledge gap, the BC First Nations Clean Energy Working Group partnered with researchers at the University of Victoria’s School of Environmental Studies to conduct a province-wide survey. The survey asked respondents whether they were involved or interested in being involved in the industry, whether they had projects in operation or development, and whether they wished to be further involved. It also asked respondents to identify barriers to involvement and capacity building activities to date. The research team contacted 203 First Nations across the province from October 2016 to February 2017. In total, we received responses from 102 First Nations and 3 Tribal Councils. Our findings suggest that there is widespread involvement and interest in renewable energy among First Nations in BC, with 98% of respondents indicating they are already involved and/or wish to be more involved in the sector. The results identify a wide variety of projects, differing in size, technology, and application. Ownership, involvement and benefits also vary considerably depending on whether First Nations are the project proponents or joining projects proposed by others. Despite this multifaceted involvement and interest, 68% of respondents indicated they are experiencing substantial barriers to entry and expansion in renewable energy development. The three most common barriers included lack of opportunity in BC Hydro programs, financing, and community readiness.



First Nations, British Columbia, renewal energy development