Several years ago, CFN-GBI Nations got together with the Province and BC Hydro to write a community action plan focused on improving energy efficiency and transitioning to clean energy.
“There was interest in supporting electrification of remote communities,” said community energy facilitator Gillian Aubie Vines. “My role involves bringing First Nations, the Province, the federal government, and BC Hydro together to support and resource Indigenous communities’ energy goals. In other words, share messages, reshape programs to meet community needs, and shake trees to make things happen.”
Aubie Vines notes that First Nations on the Coast have been pursuing clean energy for nearly 30 years and have been successful at building their own clean energy projects. BC Hydro also has an interest in partnering with communities to ensure energy conservation. In remote communities using diesel generators, rate payers do not pay the full costs of power. This means that the more electricity is saved, the more money BC Hydro is able to save in resources.
To date, energy upgrades have been undertaken in hundreds of homes in Masset and Skidegate on Haida Gwaii, and also in Klemtu, while work is underway with the Gitga’at and Nuxalk. In these villages, locally trained contractors are conducting basic upgrades while auditing homes to see what more is needed as part of a future major energy upgrade. This approach puts the power in the hands of the local people, increasing capacity and offering new staff positions for qualified local workers. And that’s ensuring a growing group within each community of project champions, who are sure to share their stories of energy savings far and wide.