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BCSEA Calls for Conservation and Low-Carbon Electrification

Tom Hackney and William J. Andrews
Wednesday, May 6, 2020

BCSEA Calls for Conservation and Low-Carbon Electrification

May 4, 2020

BCSEA filed a 74-page final argument today in the Utilities Commission’s proceeding on BC Hydro’s revenue requirement application for fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2021. This caps a 12-day oral hearing and thousands of pages of evidence and interrogatories.

BCSEA supported approval of BC Hydro’s proposed rates (a 1.76% boost in F2020 and a 1.01% cut in F2021) and demand-side management (DSM) spending for the two-year period ($90.8 and $89.1 million per year), but called for more ambitious efforts on DSM and low-carbon electrification.

BCSEA said more conservation and efficiency measures (DSM) are warranted. Sooner rather than later, BC Hydro’s current surplus of energy and capacity (to meet peak load) will become a deficit position due to the amount of low-carbon electrification needed under the government’s CleanBC Plan. At that point, BC Hydro will require all cost-effective DSM savings. BCSEA expressed concern that BC Hydro’s “moderation approach” to DSM spending jeopardizes its ability to ramp up conservation and efficiency savings when they become urgently needed. In addition, BCSEA argued that BC Hydro’s decision not to achieve all cost-effective energy and capacity savings during the F2020-F2021 period will create “lost opportunities” by allowing inefficient assets to be locked-in for the long term.

BCSEA also said that BC Hydro’s budget for low-carbon electrification is far too low. BCSEA encouraged BC Hydro to develop a comprehensive long-term plan for measures across all sectors, not just the natural gas sector, that will meet quantitative GHG reduction objectives. BC Hydro has a key role in driving low-carbon electrification. (See BCSEA’s analysis of the Interim Report of Phase 2 of the Comprehensive Review of BC Hydro.)

Other highlights:

BCSEA supported increased funding for the Low-Income and Non-Integrated Areas DSM programs.

BCSEA strongly opposed BC Hydro’s acquisition of electricity from contaminated retired rail ties under a long-term contracts with a biomass generation plant in Williams Lake.

BCSEA urged the BC Government to move expeditiously to allow BC Hydro (and FortisBC Inc.) to recover their net costs of EV fast-charging stations up to a reasonable limit. BCSEA also recommended that the Legislature add “low-carbon transportation” to the B.C. energy objectives in the Clean Energy Act.

The Commission is expected to release a final decision in the summer months. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely throw off most of BC Hydro’s load and revenue forecasts, so it will soon be ‘back to the drawing board’ for future rates, DSM and low-carbon electrification.

By Bill Andrews, BCSEA’s lawyer in BCUC proceedings, and Tom Hackney, BCSEA’s policy advisor.

Links:

BCSEA Final Argument

BCUC Proceeding page

BCSEA Comments on Interim Report, Phase 2 Comprehensive Review of BC Hydro