B.C. Indigenous Utilities Regulation InquiryLetter of Comment

Publication - Sept. 9, 2019 - By Dylan Heerema

The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) has been directed to advise the Government of British Columbia on “the appropriate nature and scope, if any, of the regulation of Indigenous utilities” in the province. The Pembina Institute respectfully submits the following letter of comment as an Interested Party in this proceeding.

In our view the BCUC should, given the balance of evidence, give examples in its report of cases where it considers that regulation of Indigenous utilities by the BCUC is not required. We further recommend that the BCUC not attempt to unilaterally establish where regulation of Indigenous utilities is required, or what entitity would be responsible for such regulation, until broader questions of jurisdiction and Rights and Title have been sufficiently addressed by Indigenous governments and the provinical government. This should be seen as part of the overall effort towards advancing reconciliation, Indigenous self-government, and upholding the principles of UNDRIP.

There is considerable momentum among Indigenous nations in B.C. pursuing self-government and a higher degree of energy independence. The current regulatory environment has the potential to restrict such goals. At the heart of this Inquiry is the need to meaningfully consult with nations to shape any needed changes to the regulatory regime. A successful outcome will be one that provides opportunities for Indigenous utilities to operate in a manner consistent with Indigenous Rights, Title, and goals of self-determination, but still maintains representation for any ratepayers that are not constituents of an Indigenous nation.


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