BC Hydro Review sets Path for Electrifying Economy, Supporting CleanBC

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July 15, 2021

The Province has announced the first set of its recommendations from Phase 2 of the BC Hydro Review to help people and businesses use clean electricity to reduce their carbon footprints, achieve CleanBC climate targets and support clean economic development.

“Climate change and clean power are important issues for British Columbians, and B.C. is a leader in North America when it comes to providing clean, reliable and affordable electricity,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “We’re acting now to use that clean electricity advantage to make life better for people and build a stronger economy.”

New research shows B.C. is the cleanest jurisdiction in western North America, with an average of 98% of its electricity generation coming from clean or renewable resources. BC Hydro delivers power to 95% of the province, generating the majority of this power from its clean hydroelectric resources.

Most other regions in western North America have a more challenging transition, as they still rely heavily on natural gas and/or coal to generate their power. The current amount of clean supply in the other western jurisdictions ranges from a low of 9% to a high of 85%.

“Electrifying our economy with clean power is a central part of our CleanBC plan to reduce climate-harming pollution and create new opportunities for people and businesses in a net-zero emissions future,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “BC Hydro’s Phase 2 recommendations will help accelerate the transition to a cleaner economy by electrifying industry, supporting clean tech and low-carbon hydrogen, and better integrating our grid with neighbouring jurisdictions.”

Despite having access to the cleanest electricity in western North America, electricity use still represents less than 20% of B.C.’s total energy demand, while nearly 70% of the economy is powered by fossil fuels. The remaining energy demand is supplied by biofuels.

Guided by input from a panel of external energy industry experts, government and BC Hydro have developed recommendations under Phase 2 of the BC Hydro Review to harness B.C.’s clean electricity to build a cleaner economy and better future for British Columbia.

Government and BC Hydro will act on these recommendations, including:

  • developing a 100% clean standard for electricity delivered to customers through the integrated grid, with the goal of becoming the first jurisdiction in western North America to achieve this objective;
  • making connections to the electricity grid faster and the costs more predictable for residential, commercial and industrial customers;
  • providing a discounted rate to new clean industries (including renewable hydrogen) and industrial customers who switch their operations from fossil fuels to clean electricity;
  • supporting the Province’s Hydrogen Strategy by increasing Powertech Labs’ focus on leading innovation in hydrogen technologies;
  • establishing a clean energy economic development working group to increase co-ordination between government and BC Hydro in attracting investment in new clean industries and powering B.C.’s economy with clean electricity; and
  • considering regulatory changes to require BC Hydro and the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) to use an internal carbon price when evaluating programs and infrastructure that support customers in switching from fossil fuels to clean electricity.

Advancing electrification will drive increased demand for clean electricity from existing and new BC Hydro customers during a time of energy surplus. This will increase BC Hydro revenues and help keep rates low for everyone.

“For decades, BC Hydro has played a vital role in building British Columbia by providing clean, low-cost electricity, and we will continue in that role as we support the province’s economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 and respond to the challenges of climate change,” said Chris O’Riley, president and CEO, BC Hydro. “We look forward to working with the B.C. government, customers, Indigenous Nations and stakeholders to implement recommendations from the BC Hydro Review and advance B.C.’s position as a global leader in clean energy.”

Future announcements from Phase 2 will include recommendations focused on keeping electricity affordable for people and increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road.

In addition, as part of the Draft Action Plan to advance the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, the Province is proposing to engage with First Nations to identify and support new clean energy opportunities for Indigenous peoples related to CleanBC, the BC Hydro Review and the BCUC Inquiry on Indigenous Utilities.

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