First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund — British Columbia

Authors: Caolan Lemke, Chad Eggerman, Nathan Cramer

The First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund is a governmental funding source for clean energy projects that promotes First Nations’ participation in the clean energy sector within asserted traditional territories and treaty areas in British Columbia.

The program regularly accepts new applications with January 31 and May 31 as the closing dates each year. The next intake deadline is January 31, 2021.

The Clean Energy Act (SBC 2010, c 22) enabled the fund and British Columbia’s Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation administers the fund.

Only bands under the Indian Act (RSC 1985, c I-5) are eligible for the fund, or a governing body exclusively representing one or more First Nations and in relation to clean energy projects located within British Columbia.

Three forms of funding (based on project stage) are available under the fund:

Funding Form and Timing Maximum Amount Purpose
Capacity Funding

(early-stage, project planning and initial development)

$50,000 per applicant Developing community energy plans, engaging with project proponents and investigating potential projects (due diligence, feasibility studies, permitting processes and business plan development) and community member training
Equity Grants

(late-stage “last-in” financing)

$500,000 per applicant

$150,000 per project

Project financing (new projects) or acquiring equity interests in existing projects

Energy efficiency, demand side management and small scale heat electrical projects

Revenue Sharing

(post-operational, revenue sharing agreements)

Varies – proportionate interest of project revenue Sharing of provincial income derived from a renewable energy project, including land, water and wind participation rents, revenues and other amounts payable to the province

Since its inception to 2017, the fund has contributed in excess of $8.5 million toward First Nations clean energy projects. In 2018 alone, the fund contributed nearly $2.5 million to 14 First Nations-led energy projects. As of September 2019, the fund granted a further $930,000 toward four additional clean energy projects.

MLT Aikins can help First Nations assess their eligibility and navigate the application process in respect of this unique source of clean energy project funding. Visit our Aboriginal and energy industry pages to learn more about our team and our work in these areas.

Note: This article is of a general nature only. Laws and government programs may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.