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Interim Report Not Adequate

Monday, April 20, 2020

Interim Report Not Adequate, Says BCSEA

April 14, 2020

BCSEA provided a lengthy brief to the BC Ministry of Energy and BC Hydro today, in response to the March 2020 Interim Report on the Government’s “Comprehensive Review” of BC Hydro, Phase 2.  The brief and cover letters are attached below.

BCSEA expressed disappointment that the Interim Report fails to meet the Review’s stated objective to develop recommendations for how BC Hydro can achieve the low-carbon electrification objectives under the CleanBC Plan.

Key recommendations:

1. The Government should honor its commitment to provide an opportunity for BCSEA and other stakeholders to comment on draft recommendations before a final report is issued.

2. The Review should recommend granting BC Hydro a legal mandate to pursue low-carbon electrification in BC. This would be a significant revision of BC Hydro’s current mandate simply to provide electricity service to eligible customers. Currently, there is no entity in charge of low-carbon electrification, no clear legal structure, no plan, and no accountability.

3. BC Hydro needs to develop a comprehensive plan for achieving low-carbon electrification in BC. This would set out the quantitative objectives (how much electrification, how much GHG reduction, by what years) as well as the programs and projects by which the objectives will be achieved. BC Hydro is currently developing an Integrated Resource Plan to be filed with the BCUC in February 2021. However, the IRP focuses primarily on providing electricity service, not on achieving the low-carbon electrification.

4. The Review should openly clarify the division of responsibilities between the BC Government and the BC Utilities Commission for making decisions about BC Hydro’s role in achieving low-carbon electrification under the CleanBC Plan. Currently, the Government exerts enormous influence over what BC Hydro does and who pays for it (ratepayers or taxpayers), even though in theory the BCUC will have the authority to review and approve BC Hydro’s 2021 IRP.

5. BCSEA opposes the suggestion that BC Hydro should invest in clean generation facilities located outside of B.C. This would not reduce GHG emissions in B.C. It would put upward pressure on BC Hydro’s rates. It would waste the opportunity to support economic development in B.C. And it would not help Reconciliation with First Nations in B.C.

6. BCSEA has serious reservations about the Phase 2 Review’s proposal that BC Hydro should try to go into the business of selling power at premium prices to buyers in US states who are under legislated renewable portfolio standards. Powerex already sells power from the BC system to out-of-province purchasers at premium “clean” prices in the limited cases where US states allow BC Hydro’s power to qualify as “clean” and compete with their local suppliers. BC already tried the “Clean Energy Powerhouse” idea in the early 2000s, and it turned out to be a financial failure. If the Government insists that BC Hydro must move ahead with this initiative, then BCSEA says the proposal should be put to the BCUC for approval before it is allowed to proceed.

Specific topics address in BCSEA’s brief include rate design, transmission extensions, and investments in conservation and efficiency. 

By Bill Andrews and Tom Hackney

Links:

(a) to the government’s Comprehensive Review, Phase 2

(b) to the government’s CleanBC plan