Project Info and Review Process
Frequently Asked Questions
- The purpose of the proposed Atlin Hydro Expansion project is to generate an additional ~8MW of energy, with the intention of selling 100% of the generated power to Yukon for Yukoners to have energy during the cold winter months.
- The project proposes constructing and operating two hydro power plants on Pine Creek. There will also be infrastructure associated with the project (e.g., tailrace, penstock etc.). Among other changes, the project will require upgrades to the Surprise Lake Control structure to increase the storage range of the lake (from 1.1m to 2.0m), which is used as a reservoir.
- The project also proposes constructing ~92 km long transmission line along Atlin Road.
- The proponent of the project is the Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership (THELP). THELP is a sister company of the Atlin Taku Economic Limited Partnership (ATELP).
- Even though both THELP and ATELP are 100% TRTFN-owned companies and TRTFN citizens are shareholders in these companies, TRTFN as a Nation, Government Body, and community is not the proponent. Instead, TRTFN Lands as a TRTFN Government Department reviews the project and makes recommendations to the decision-makers, which include BC and TRTFN. TRTFN as a Nation and community will in the end make a decision about the project in Joint Clan Meeting.
- While TRTFN obviously stands for the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, we have to distinguish between three major and different “definitions” as depicted in this chart:
- First, TRTFN is a Nation and Government Body.
- Secondly, TRTFN has various Government Departments, including the TRTFN Lands Department.
- And thirdly, TRTFN is a community.
- They all function independently but are inter-related.
- The role of TRTFN as a Nation and Government Body is to make a decision about the project, whether it should be approved or not. If it does decide to approve the project, it will also have to decide under what conditions it is approved.
- The role of the TRTFN Lands Department and the Lands Engagement Officer (LEO) is to evaluate the project objectively with the goal of identifying shortcomings and making recommendations for how the project could be improved. These recommendations could be related to enhancing the project’s benefits and avoiding negative impacts, for example. When reviewing the project, the Lands Department is responsible for making sure that the project fulfills the Taku River Tlingit First Nation Vision and Management Direction for Land and Resources and the objectives and requirements of the Wóoshtin wudidaa / Atlin Taku Land Use Plan to the greatest extent possible. The main goal of the Lands Department is to bring the best information possible to the Government Body and TRTFN community so a well-informed decision on the project can be made.
The role of the TRTFN community is to raise concerns and opinions to the Lands Engagement Officer (e.g., via E-Mail, phone call or a letter), or during engagement events, so they can be incorporated into the review and to participate in the Joint Clan Meeting (JCM) when a decision about the project will be made. The TRTFN community can also choose to attend engagement sessions to stay informed about the project.
- As set out in the Wóoshtin Yan too.aat – Land and Resource Management, Shared Decision Making Agreement (G2G Agreement) both BC and TRTFN will be making a decision in regard to the project:
- Since various permits are required for the project, there are various BC decision-makers who will be making a decision on these permits. One of the major BC decision-makers is the Director of Authorizations from the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations based in Smithers.
- TRTFN’s decision on the project, i.e., whether to approve it and under which conditions, will be made by TRTFN community members and leaders in a Joint Clan Meeting (JCM).
- A team of various BC representatives and experts in different fields (e.g., Dam Safety, Wildlife, Fisheries etc.) as well as TRTFN Lands representatives, specifically the LEO with support by two Whitehorse-based consultant build the Regional Clean Energy Project Team (RCEPT), tasked to conduct the review of this project.
- To support the technical review of the project TRTFN Lands established the Project Review Group (PRG) whose core consist of the LEO, two Whitehorse-based consultants, and one appointed TRTFN Elder. The PRG is drawing support, information and input from TRTFN Lands’ experts in the field as needed, for instance from TRTFN’s Wildlife Coordinator for wildlife concerns or TRTFN’s Fisheries Steward for fish and aquatic concerns.
- Due to the complex nature of the project a customized engagement process between TRTFN Lands and BC was developed as depicted in this flowchart:
- There are three major stages in the review, which will then result in the Decision Package to be brought to the BC and TRTFN decision-makers. The three stages are: 1) Completeness Review, 2) Technical Review, and 3) CEDP Endorsement.
- There will be various engagement sessions between BC, THELP and TRTFN Lands to work through the different sections of the CEDP, to discuss the various potential impacts from the project, how they can be avoided or mitigated. Throughout the course of these discussion there will be key times identified when to engage with the TRTFN community and inquire their input.
- In November 2020, a joint G2G-TRTFN Lands status update was intended to be distributed among TRTFN community members at the JCM. However, due to COVID-19, the JCM was cancelled and unfortunately the update was never brought to the community. The status update still contains valuable information. However, things have further progressed in the meantime. Read an updated joint G2G-TRTFN Lands status update here.
- As stated in the December 2020 Clan Directive, the BC-TRTFN permitting and environmental review process is still underway, which will yield valuable information needed to make an informed decision about the project. THELP officially submitted the Clean Energy Development Plan (CEDP) to BC and TRTFN Lands in January, 2021. This started the first phase of the review process, which is a four week-long completeness review and screening phase. This early review phase is meant to assess whether the plan contains all the information that reviewers need to carry out a more in-depth technical review. Since the project is complex, the LEO is reviewing the project with support from two Whitehorse-based consultants (paid for by the proponent), experienced with such projects and reviews.
- The results from this preliminary review at the end of February 2021 showed that some sections of the CEDP have information gaps that need to be corrected by THELP before the technical review can start. At this time (March 2021), THELP is expected to follow up with the information requests that have been made by BC and TRTFN, and then re-submit the CEDP.
- THELP underwent a self-assessment and re-submitted their CEDP on 23 June, 2021, which initiated an abbreviated 2-week completeness review to see whether the requested changes have been made. The CEDP has been re-organized, and information has been added, which is why in early July all RCEPT team members agreed on allowing the CEDP to move to the technical review stage. This will be the longest and most important review stage.
- That means the project is now in the technical review stage. This will be the longest and most important review stage to look at the CEDP in detail, especially in regards to assessment methods, potential impacts, mitigation strategies, compensation measures and other required commitments. During this phase public engagement sessions and TRTFN meetings will be held to provide the community with opportunities to provide input, and the CEDP will be published online for public commenting (see more info below).
- During the month of September, the PRG conducted technical review meetings with THELP, which were attended by BC as observer. These meetings helped the PRG to discuss key values, potential impacts, mitigation and compensation measures in more detail.
- Between the middle and end of October, the first round of comments by RCEPT were due. The PRG also submitted comments on behalf of TRTFN Lands. The submission goes to the BC Project Manager, who then forward the comments to THELP. Now we are waiting for THELP to respond back and provide answers and information requested in the comments.
- THELP hosted already a number of public open houses where questions can be asked and comments be made. More public open houses will be held in the future, so keep your eyes out for the respective posters.
- The project proposal, also known as the Clean Energy Development Plan (CEDP), has now also been published online, initiating the formal public commenting period, which is legally required. The deadline for commenting will close on January 14, 2022.
- Any time, also outside of the formal public commenting period mentioned above, comments can be submitted to Christine Ziegler, TRTFN Lands Engagement Officer, via phone or email, or to the BC Project Manager, Andrea Scarth, via email.
- All submitted comments are handled anonymously.