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Lumos Energy: Helping Indigenous Communities own Renewable Power Projects

People increasingly want energy sources that don’t have a climate change impact, and regulators are asking energy companies to reduce their emissions. All of this affects Canada’s energy landscape. Recognizing this shift, Generation Energy, is profiling representatives from the energy sector to understand how they use innovation and technology to support opportunities for a low-carbon future.

Entrepreneurs like Chris Henderson, CEO of Lumos Energy, are striving to promote change and create a Canada with affordable, reliable, green energy. Through Lumos, Chris provides advice to Indigenous communities, helping them work towards ownership of new clean energy infrastructure.

In his interview, Chris provides three key messages for Canada’s energy future.

1) Community involvement helps energy projects to succeed

Community involvement is key to ensuring the success of energy projects, and many Indigenous communities are ready and willing to become an integrated part of the energy dialogue, says Chris.

"My view on Indigenous involvement in clean energy is that it makes projects better because of a combination of Indigenous ownership, Indigenous traditional knowledge, and the active participation of communities."

Cooperation with Indigenous communities from the outset of a new energy development project means environmental and community concerns are included from the beginning. Engagement with Indigenous communities is no longer about consultation, rather Indigenous communities desire co-ownership and/or social and economic benefits, and wish to be directly involved in the project development, construction and operations stages.

"Bottom Line: the Indigenous power entails substantive and meaningful and impact through community participation in clean energy projects, infrastructure and technology-deployment," says Chris.

He believes that communities need to be involved in energy projects in order to understand the impacts and the benefits for their community. Early involvement can also encourage community employment and consequently, make projects less expensive.

"That’s why Generation Energy is a good idea if you can engage community."

2) Renewables are becoming more competitive

Okikendawt hydro dam
Okikendawt hydro dam

Chris says the future of renewable electricity continues to look brighter as we improve technology and find innovative new solutions.

The main concern with many renewable sources is not being able to use renewable sources when we want. Unlike fossil-fuel sources such has diesel, which can be used regardless of outside conditions, solar or wind energy sources are dependent upon factors like weather and seasonal changes. Bridging the time and space challenge through energy storage and capacity and dispatch planning helps solve the dilemma of being able to produce and use renewable energy effectively. The use of renewables also becomes more compelling as costs continue to decline, making them a more competitive source.

"We are solving the challenges of how we store energy and how we match demand and supply more effectively so therefore renewable energy, which has declined in cost substantively, will decline further," said Chris.

3) Canada’s energy policy needs to catch up:

The Okikendawt power project
The Okikendawt power project

Rather than placing emphasis on technological innovation, Chris urges Canadians to focus on the dislocation between current policy and the recent advancements in technology.

"The biggest challenge is policy evolution, not technological revolution. Consumers and technology are ahead of energy planning, community engagement, clean energy policy and fiscal programs at the moment. Though, I would add there are some very positive directions emerging from the federal and provincial/territorial governments over the past year.

Big changes are underway in Canada’s energy landscape, and there will be more to come in the next couple of decades. Chris explains that we are at the early stages of a transformation to an electrification economy and we will soon see all energy being supplied that way.

"Energy change has always been very dislocating, so the challenge ahead of us is how we reform policy to catch up to what technology offers and Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, desire."

"This, to me, is the positive potential of Generation Energy, connecting Canadians to help shape our country’s energy future."