In the most recent Throne Speech the Provincial Government of British Columbia announced a policy to transform the province into a "Clean Energy Powerhouse" and to become a global leader in managing and responding to climate change.
On April 28, 2010 the Provincial Government introduced the Clean Energy Act in the legislature. The Act is designed to achieve three primary policy objectives. The first objective is to achieve electricity self-sufficiency for BC by 2016, while maintaining low electricity rates for BC consumers. The second objective is to harness BC's clean power potential to create jobs in all regions of the province. The third objective is to strengthen environmental stewardship and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
To meet those objectives, the Clean Energy Act provides a new regulatory framework for long-term energy planning, an enhanced commitment to renewable electricity generation, and measures to promote electricity efficiency and conservation. More specifically, the Act provides for the following:
- Clean Energy Powerhouse: The Government is committed to making BC a Clean Energy Powerhouse by increasing reliance on clean energy sources. The new electricity policy provides for expediting clean energy investments, protecting BC ratepayers, ensuring competitive electricity rates, encouraging conservation, strengthening environmental protection and promoting regional job creation and First Nations' involvement in clean energy developments.
- Expedited Project Completion: The Act exempts various core power projects to be undertaken by BC Hydro from British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) review and approval, including; (i) the new 335 km Northwest Transmission Line; (ii) Mica Units 5 and 6 (which will add 1000 MW of new capacity at BC Hydro's Mica Dam); (iii) Revelstoke Unit 6 (which will add 500 MW of new capacity at BC Hydro's Revelstoke Dam); (iv) Site C (which would add 900 MW of new capacity at a site on the Peace River); (v) the current Clean Power Call for 5000 Gwh/year from Independent Power Producers; (vi) the current Bioenergy Calls made by BC Hydro; (vii) a Smart Metering/Smart Grid initiative proposed by BC Hydro; and (viii) any Feed-in Tariff the Provincial Government should decide to adopt. All of these projects remain subject to applicable environmental assessments and to the Province's constitutional obligations to First Nations' consultation and accommodation.
- Reintegration of BC Hydro and BC Transmission: The reintegration of British Columbia Transmission Corporation (BCTC) with BC Hydro to form a single entity with one board of directors and a single executive management team, in order to align policy objectives and reduce costs. All the assets, liabilities and employees of BCTC will be transferred to BC Hydro.
- Electricity Exports: BC Hydro will have a new role: actively marketing clean power, both in other Provinces and to the United States. To promote new investment and jobs in BC, BC Hydro will become the aggregator of energy purchases from Independent Power Producers in the province. However, any commitments to export power projects must follow demonstrated demand.
Taken together, the projects and initiatives contemplated and provided for in the Clean Energy Act comprise a capital program that is one of the most ambitious in the history of the Province, and the largest since W.A.C. Bennett's "Two Rivers Policy," which developed dams on the Peace and Columbia Rivers beginning in the 1960s.