Based on feedback from workshops hosted in March 2022 by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (EMLI) and the First Nations Energy and Mining Council (FNEMC), First Nations leadership provided approval for three engagement tables to proceed: Electricity Table, Hydrogen Market Opportunities Table and Legislative Standing Table. Engagement for 2022/23 included the following: opportunities in hydrogen and renewable natural gas; a learning series on electricity markets, systems and regulation; and development of a joint process for engagement on clean energy regulation and legislation.
Legislative Standing Table: EMLI and FNEMC to develop the Legislative Standing table to bring forward provincially proposed clean energy legislative and regulatory changes for discussion with First Nations on alignment with the UN Declaration as per the Declaration Act section 3 obligations.
Electricity Table: In November 2022, FNEMC and EMLI convened an Electricity Table Advisory Group (ETAG) consisting of Indigenous and industry leaders. The ETAG, facilitated by a third-party contractor, will discuss opportunities in the electricity sector and provide advice to EMLI and FNEMC on the implementation of activities outlined in the Indigenous Clean Energy Opportunities (ICEO) workplan for the Electricity Table.
The ETAG terms of feference, formally approved in December 2022, provides a list of members and scope of activities for the first two years of the ETAG and can be found on the ICEO website. An Indigenous graphic facilitator captured the discussions in a visual form to illustrate plans for the Electricity Table and ICEO. With input from ETAG members, FNEMC and EMLI have developed a framework for a series of ‘Electricity 101 knowledge sessions’, that will be presented (in-person) to rights holders at a clean energy workshop in Summer 2023.
Hydrogen Table: The BC Hydrogen Office (BCHO) and FNEMC have formed a strong partnership since the workplan began. Jointly, the BCHO and FNEMC are developing an Indigenous Hydrogen Opportunities Analysis. On January 31, 2023, a ‘Hydrogen 101 Workshop’ was presented and met with great success. The workshop had over 50 participants and stimulated many questions and much interest. Planning is underway for a second (in-person) workshop to be held in Summer 2023.
The goals for this action include the following:
- First Nations are fully positioned to participate in current and future opportunities in B.C.’s clean energy sector, and
- Recommendations to decision makers for legislation, regulation and policy related to clean energy are jointly developed.
- Implementation project underway: A BCHO/FNEMC Hydrogen Initiative was launched via virtual successful workshop on January 31, 2023.
- Strategic engagement underway: Development of the ETAG, made up of Indigenous and non-Indigenous representatives with technical and subject matter expertise in the electricity sector, to provide advice to FNEMC and EMLI on carrying out activities of the Electricity Table. Three meetings of the ETAG have been held.
How are we working together?
The ICEO is a co-developed, co-led process between EMLI and FNEMC and is subject to the individual parties’ authorities, responsibilities and internal structures and processes.
FNEMC and EMLI representatives have developed a strong working relationship through co-developing and co-leading the ICEO engagement process. Their relationship continues to achieve the following objectives:
- Build a relationship based on trust and respect for each other’s perspectives
- Apply a “solution-oriented” approach to all work to implement this engagement process
- Set timelines, and
- Work with due consideration for timelines and share all relevant information in a timely manner.
ICEO engagement enhances the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the Province by inviting the parties to engage in open thinking and transparent dialogue with a view to
- Align Indigenous and provincial government decision-making on the policy program options, and
- Improve the economic, environmental, social and cultural outcomes for Indigenous Peoples in British Columbia.
Are there challenges?
Pressure to engage on and implement activities under the ICEO terms of reference will grow in fiscal year 2023/24 and exceed available FNEMC and EMLI resources (staff resources and approved budgets).
Implementation of ICEO activities and outcomes may occur slower than desired by rights holders and Indigenous organizations.
Items identified by rights holders as part of 21/22 ICEO engagements are not currently being addressed under ICEO, but may be addressed in future years, such as:
- Resource revenue sharing on BC Hydro projects and compensation from the impacts of past infringements
- Indigenous clean energy infrastructure ownership
- Participation in governance, employment and contracting with BC Hydro
- Transition from diesel to renewable power generation in remote First Nation communities (currently advanced by EMLI outside of ICEO process), and
- Jointly developing recommendations for the Provincial Cabinet on a proposed regulatory framework for Indigenous utilities.
Many Nations are focused on power sales agreements with BC Hydro when new power supply is not immediately required or feasible at prices set in previous procurements.