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Clean Electricity for a Better Environment

After decades of work to draw attention to the need for hydroelectric power in Hartley Bay, a 950-kilowatt hydroelectric dam on the Hartley Bay Watershed is well on its way to becoming a reality.


All levels of government are keenly interested in eliminating diesel electricity generation in remote First Nations communities. They have helped to fund the Gitga'at Power Project development, just as they have with the construction of the Water Security project. The project is being completed in multiple stages to align with the government permitting requirements and the timing of funding.


Building a Path to a Sustainable Energy Future

After years of work, funding has been secured for the weir, dam and controls, and road. The important milestone of receiving capital gives project stakeholders and contractors the funds to move forward.   

Two people walking down gravel road


Pushing Toward Completion, One Step at a Time

As of January 2024, road construction is complete. Once the water licence is granted the weir and dam and controls can be built, followed by the penstock, powerhouse, tailrace, switchyard and transmission lines.

Digging in river


Getting to our Provincial Development Plan

Once the access road is complete, a Provincial Investigative Use Permit will allow us to establish robust trails in the reach. We will do geological confirmation studies. That will create the certainty to finalize asset placement and engineering design, necessary for our Provincial Development Plan.

Aerial of mountains


Completing the Dam Project

In February 2024 we received the Province’s Investigative Use Permit. Provincial Development Plan approval is necessary for our Water Licence. With that in hand, we will build the weir/dam/controls (completing the Water Security Project) and then the remaining Power Project assets.


Moving Beyond Power Shortages

Over the years, Hartley Bay power outages have reminded us that they have the potential to be catastrophic. No one wants to be without electricity, especially during dark, cold winter months and when vital food supplies in refrigerators and freezers are at risk.


BC Hydro is the electricity service provider in Hartley Bay. They will maintain a backup system using their diesel generators for now. Hopefully, in the future, they will have other clean energy technology to act as a backup – maybe hydrogen fuel cells. Generating power locally using hydroelectricity will enable the community to secure a reliable source of clean electricity, reassuring residents that their power needs will be met for decades. 


The production of electricity must be cost-effective. Recognizing all the true diesel generation costs means accounting for pollution, climate impacts, and government subsidies of oil. Additionally, there are no supply guarantees for fossil fuels in remote communities such as Hartley Bay—diesel supply problems have historically plagued the community. Now, BC Hydro must transport diesel from elsewhere and store it, increasing the potential for contamination and spills both in the community and in the water—the food basket of the Nation. 


Obtaining energy security through community-level hydro means BC Hydro and the people of BC will avoid the financial impacts of wild price swings that can make diesel extremely expensive for community power generation. 

Once the access road is complete, a Provincial Investigative Use Permit is allowing us to establish robust trails in the reach between the Upper and Lower Lakes. We will do geological confirmation studies. That will create the certainty to finalize asset placement and engineering design, necessary for our Provincial Development Plan.


A Clean Energy Investment That Employs Members

Building and operating a hydroelectric facility means Gitga'at First Nation will fully align with the clean energy sector. The Nation is also looking at the potential for a green hydrogen project at Chute Lake. The clean energy sector represents a significant economic opportunity for the territory and the entire province—possibly in the billions of dollars.


The Nation has acquired funding to conduct a feasibility study in early spring 2024 about the potential for a hydroelectric Hydrogen project at Chute Lake. One possibility is to switch diesel for hydrogen in the Douglas Channel industrial corridor – likely with tug boats and other marine vessels. The clean energy sector represents a significant economic opportunity for the Nation given its territorial resources, and the entire province.
All opportunities in this sector represent high-paying, high-quality jobs. The Gitga'at Development Corporation will establish businesses and possibly joint venture partnerships to further the Gitga’at Power Project. If the Nation chooses, there are significant potential resources and services to monetize in the clean energy industry.

The positive economic impacts of the Water Security Project fall into four main categories: 

  • labour (including skills training); 

  • business activity such as community services such as accommodations, hospitality, some tourism, and environmental monitoring through GOLD; 

  • emergency response; and 

  • transportation. 


Not only will employment be created, but workers will have the opportunity to develop new skills that may apply to other Gitga'at jobs. 

Different employment opportunities will be available depending on the project's stage. In the Water Security phase, construction will be busy and fast-paced, requiring plenty of workers to build the road, weir, and dam and provide monitoring and reporting. The labour required will cool down once the construction phase ends. Energy production and environmental monitoring will be required indefinitely, as will clearing debris at the mouth of the Upper Lake, snow removal on the road, and vegetation management.


Protecting Lands, Water, and Air for Future Generations

Avoiding drought in hot, dry summers is vital to life in Hartley Bay. Drought risks are many—the community requires a constant water supply for drinking and general health, sewage management, firefighting, tourism, fish production, and management, etc. The weir will allow Hartley Bay administration to store and release water as required. When water is abundant, it can be used for electricity generation.


As part of a broader First Nations effort to address climate change, the Hartley Bay Hydroelectric Project will improve air quality in the community and surrounding area by reducing or eliminating the need to use fossil fuels for electricity. The shift to clean energy could remove up to 2,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year emitted in Hartley Bay when using diesel-powered generators to create power. The dam opens opportunities for expansion with other micro power generation efforts in the territory in the future, enabling the Nation to develop a capability in constructing and maintaining the small-scale, clean energy infrastructure.   

A decade ago, The Gitga'at Climate Change Adaptation Project (CCAP) examined the challenges of climate change. The analysis came from multiple perspectives, including values, vulnerability, and action planning. 10 years later and the Hartley Bay Hydroelectric Project is a significant step forward for the Gitga'at Nation in adapting to a changing climate. CCAP considered the risks posed by a shifting climate on the Nation's lands and waters, including factors such as lower water levels in creeks and higher ocean levels leading to more significant impacts from storm surges and flooding. 

Aerial of forest


A Legacy of Clean Air, Water, and Land

The future of the Gitga’at Nation is its children, and the Nation is in good hands. By making the right investments in renewable energy, the Gitga’at Nation is preserving the lands, waters, and air within the territory. The switch to locally generated clean power will positively impact the community now and in the future. No matter what challenges climate change presents, the Nation will find ways to adapt—just as it has since time immemorial. 

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