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Low-Carbon Electrification and BC Hydro's Role in Implementing the CleanBC Climate Action Plan

Tom Hackney, Policy Advisor to BCSEA

BCSEA’s inputs to Phase 2 of the Comprehensive Review of BC Hydro.

Low-Carbon Electrification and BC Hydro’s Role in Implementing the CleanBC Climate Action Plan.

Phase 2 of the BC government’s Comprehensive Review of BC Hydro will make policy-level recommendations on how BC Hydro should support the government’s CleanBC climate action plan and adapt itself to changing circumstances (mainly technological developments in energy generation, storage, and delivery to customers, and changing regional market conditions for BC Hydro’s highly dispatchable power). These recommendations will guide BC Hydro’s 2021 Integrated Resource Plan.  [see Low-carbon electrification in BC: Next steps for BC Hydro, 14 August 2019: 

BCSEA has now met with members of the Phase 2 Advisory Group and calls for these eight guiding principles to be applied to the Phase 2 Review (for BCSEA’s letter to the Advisory Group, see 

1. Low carbon electrification should emphasize transportation, buildings and non-fossil-fuel industrial loads, not just fossil fuel production loads.

Electrifying new oil and gas production loads and LNG liquefaction loads would avoid GHG emissions from producing (though not from using) those fossil fuels. But BC should be reducing, not increasing its production of fossil fuels, in line with the urgent need to address climate change. Meanwhile, the Phase 2 Review should recognize the value of low carbon electrification that spans all of BC society—buildings, transportation and industry—and can make very deep cuts in BC’s emissions, commensurate with our legislated targets.

2. As BC Hydro’s shareholder, the Government should direct BC Hydro to take a proactive leadership role in achieving low carbon electrification in BC.

In the past few years, the urgent imperative of climate change has played an increasing role in the conservative world of utility planning. FortisBC’s natural gas utility is now promoting a vision of a transition to a sustainable energy future, based substantially on natural gas and renewable natural gas products [https://www.cdn.fortisbc.com/libraries/docs/default-source/about-us-docu.... BC Hydro should be encouraged to present a vision for the future powered by clean, renewable electricity.

3. BC Hydro’s in-development Integrated Resource Plan should chart a path for BC Hydro to deliver zero-carbon energy solutions and low carbon electrification.

The Integrated Resource Plan should include scenarios that test a range of possible approaches to low carbon electrification and demand-side management

4. BC Hydro should expand net metering to support the distributed generation of the future.

BC Hydro’s net metering program should encourage individuals, communities and First Nations to participate directly in local renewable energy production and consumption. Community-based clean distributed generation is a huge opportunity for BC to implement the CleanBC Plan. It should be a key element of BC Hydro’s upcoming Integrated Resource Plan. Hydro should not discourage customers from producing annual net excess generation, as long as the price Hydro pays reflects the value of that power. BC Hydro should also implement virtual net metering.

5. BC Hydro should pursue all cost-effective conservation and efficiency savings.

BC Hydro’s energy efficiency and conservation programs should be expanded to achieve all cost-effective savings. Capacity-focused and low-income conservation and efficiency programs should be expanded.

6. The Government should address “energy poverty” through policy or enable and require BC’s utilities to do so through lifeline rates.

The potential for people to suffer “energy poverty”—the inability to pay for energy services to meet basic domestic needs—must be addressed if the CleanBC plan is to be successful.

7. The government should step in to allow and require BC Hydro and FortisBC to implement and support EV charging infrastructure

BCSEA strongly supports a leading role for BC’s public electricity utilities (BC Hydro and FortisBC electric) in implementing EV charging infrastructure and championing conducive rate design options. BC Hydro, together with the government, FortisBC, the EV sector, independent operators and other stakeholders should develop a “road-map” for quickly ramping up EV charging infrastructure necessary for low-carbon electrification in the different transportation sectors.

8. The review of Powerex’s trading activities should address BC’s climate action goals.

Phase 2 of the Comprehensive Review will produce a draft report for public comment late in 2019. BCSEA looks forward to providing further comments and encourages anyone interested in BC’s energy future to get involved. For more information, see the government website 

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