FortisBC’s Long Term Electricity Resource Plan
June 29th, 2018
The commission issued its decision on FBC's long term electricity resource plan (LTERP) yesterday. The plan addresses forecasts of energy and capacity needs, supply side resources and demand-side resources. BCSEA and SCBC intervened actively, including providing expert evidence (by Jim Grevatt) on DSM. Here are highlights of the decision from a sustainability perspective:
Self-sufficiency. The Clean Energy Act sets out BC energy objectives, one of which is electricity self-sufficiency (GHG reductions and energy efficiency are among the others). Generally, self-sufficiency refers to having enough generation resources (after DSM) to meet forecast load on a long term basis. I.e., not to plan to have to buy electricity on the market, although buying and selling electricity on the market on a short term basis is expected. The Clean Energy Act also says that BC Hydro is required to plan for electricity self-sufficiency. For other public utilities, self-sufficiency is a BC energy objective but not an specific obligation.
From a sustainability perspective, "self-sufficiency" in BC is generally quite desirable because electricity generated in BC is, and is legally required to be, low carbon (e.g. at least 93% clean or renewable for BCH), in contrast to Pacific Northwest market electricity that has a higher carbon intensity (due to gas and some coal, despite lots of hydro and growing amounts of wind).
In FBC's LTERP it stated that self-sufficiency is one of the objectives of the plan. (In this world, stating that something is an "objective" of a "plan" has genuine significance and gets argued about even though the consequences may themselves be debatable.) As a result of self-sufficiency being a plan objective, the plan calls for new resources (supply side or demand side) about ten years out. (So there's no on-the-ground consequences for five or ten years.)
Notably, the commission panel rejected FBC's self-sufficiency objective. The panel said FBC's objective of achieving electricity self-sufficiency in not in the public interest, and therefore it is not a valid planning objective against which portfolio options should be evaluated.
This ruling by the panel is (a) bad in principle for sustainable energy and (b) quite possibly contrary to the Clean Energy Act. That said, there's no immediate on-the-ground negative consequences.
Regarding the long term demand-side management plan, BCSEA and SCBC supported the "High DSM" scenario that FBC proposed, and the commission approved it.
Regarding "distributed generation" (put in quotes because different entities have very different understandings of what DG means), the commission panel said basically that it wasn't going to say anything about it.
External Links for more information:
BCUC's FBC electric Long Term Electricity Resources Plan https://www.bcuc.com/ApplicationView.aspx?ApplicationId=565
BCSEA final argument https://www.bcuc.com/Documents/Arguments/2017/DOC_50305_11-10-2017_BCSEA...
BCUC decision on FBC LTERP https://www.bcuc.com/Documents/Proceedings/2018/DOC_51952_Decision_G-117...