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BC Sustainable Energy Association – 2020 BC General Election

Tom Hackney and William J. Andrews
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Key energy policies for BC’s electric utilities

The following are three recommendations for government policies to advance BC’s electric utilities’ (mainly BC Hydro, but including FortisBC) support for climate action and BC’s transition to a sustainable energy future.

We invite our members to listen for commitments to these policies from candidates and parties in the current election campaign.

Issue 1:  Mandate BC Hydro to plan for and work to achieve the electrification goals of the CleanBC climate action plan

CleanBC[1] lays out the government’s plans for achieving three-quarters of the GHG emission reductions required for BC’s legislated 2030 GHG targets.[2] CleanBC identifies low carbon electrification in industry, transportation, and buildings as one of its key strategies and identifies BC Hydro in particular as having a key role to achieve this.[3]

BC Hydro is already carrying out some low carbon electrification, mandated under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Clean Energy) Regulation (“GGRR”);[4] however the scope of this work is much smaller than is needed to achieve CleanBC’s goals. Moreover, BC Hydro says it won’t include long-term plans for low-carbon electrification in its 2021 Integrated Resource Plan now being developed.

The commitment we want:

"If elected, our government will require BC Hydro to plan and implement low-carbon electrification to achieve the GHG reduction targets in the CleanBC plan.”

Issue 2. Policies and funding to expand personal and commercial EV use

GHG emissions from transportation make up 42% of BC’s GHG emissions. 

The BC government has already acted to foster more electric vehicle (EV) use in BC. With provincial funding, Plug In BC gives incentives for personal use  EVs and to install EV chargers in homes, condos, and places of work.[5] BC Hydro and FortisBC have been empowered to expand BC’s public fast-charging (DCFC) network within and between urban centers,[6] and Plug In BC also offers incentives for fast-charging stations to fill gaps in the network. The government also requires vehicle vendors to ensure that an increasing percentage of their sales (100% by 2040) will be zero-emission vehicles.[7]

However, commercial vehicles and heavy-duty freight vehicles are not specifically targeted for conversion to electricity, although carbon content regulations for fuels go some way toward addressing their emissions.[8]

The commitment we want:

"If elected, our government will use financial and regulatory levers to achieve rapid expansion of the use of EVs in BC for both personal use and for commercial and heavy-duty use, in place of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles. We will expand provincial incentives for EV purchases and provincial support for public EV charging stations. We will work proactively with the commercial and heavy-duty vehicle sector to develop and roll out EV solutions that will reduce fossil fuel use."

Issue 3. Require BC Hydro to facilitate cost-effective distributed generation connections

Distributed generation means clean generation that is relatively small in scale and located close to where it is used.

Distributed generation is becoming ever more cost-effective, thanks to technological improvements in photovoltaic (PV) and wind technology. Battery storage is likewise improving and coming down in price, improving the ability to mitigate the intermittency of solar and wind generation.

This raises the prospect that distributed generation might, in the long term, support a radical shift from large GHG-emitting generation plants and large hydroelectric projects to small scale, clean, local generation that could enable more electrification of energy uses currently met by fossil fuels. BC Hydro should proactively explore such potential futures.

Also, many British Columbians want to actively contribute to supporting a clean energy revolution by developing their own clean power. This is seen in the strongly growing numbers of net metering customers of BC Hydro (and FortisBC).

The commitment we want:

"If elected, our government will ensure that BC Hydro facilitates grid connection of new cost-effective distributed generation.” 

 

[1] CleanBC

[2] Climate Change Accountability Act

[3] CleanBC, pages 10 and 11.

[4] Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Clean Energy) Regulation 

[5] https://pluginbc.ca/

[6] Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Clean Energy) Regulation, section 5 

[7] Zero-Emission Vehicles Act 

[8] Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Renewable and Low Carbon Fuel Requirements) Act