British Columbia is aggressive in its determination to remain a global leader in clean and renewable energy. This is not surprising, given that a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study predicts that BC’s independent power sector could inject $26.1 billion into the provincial economy by 2020. Determined to capitalize on this potential, the BC government recently established a Green Energy Advisory Task Force and a new Cabinet Committee on Climate Action and Clean Energy. According to the government, the creation of the task force and the committee will help the province maximize its opportunities for economic development and job creation, while advancing its climate action goals and turning BC into a leading supplier of clean energy.

Green Energy Advisory Task Force

The new task force is dedicated to advancing BC’s green energy potential and to maximizing clean energy opportunities within the province. The task force will also focus on fostering the export of green electrons to Alberta and the US.

The task force is composed of four advisory task force groups, and its members include clean energy experts, energy consultants, renowned climate experts, leading academics, First Nation representatives, and environmentalists. The groups will report directly to the new cabinet committee, and each is charged with a specific mandate:

  • Procurement and Regulatory Reform — focusing on recommending improvements to BC Hydro’s procurement process to enhance clarity, certainty and competitiveness.
  • Export Market Development and Carbon Trading — focusing on maximizing the value of BC’s green-energy attributes in all power sold beyond BC borders, and ensuring that emerging carbon trading regimes treat BC’s green energy exports favourably.
  • Community Engagement and First Nations Partnerships — focusing on ensuring that communities and First Nations see clear economic and employment benefits, as well as input opportunities, regarding project development in their areas.
  • Resource Development — focusing on impediments to and best practices for planning and permitting new projects, to ensure sustainable development and to consider how forestry and less-established clean energy sectors (i.e., solar, tidal and wave) can increase their competitiveness in BC.

Cabinet Committee on Climate Action and Clean Energy

The new cabinet committee will include the Premier, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and other cabinet ministers whose portfolios are important to the development of clean energy, as well as existing members of the climate action committee. The committee will also include the chairs of BC Hydro and the BC Transmission Corporation.

Other Recent Developments

Shortly before announcing the task force, the BC government issued a legislative direction to the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC). This direction ordered that the BCUC no longer rely on the aging gas-fired Burrard Thermal plant for a supply of firm energy. This direction is not only consistent with the province’s plans to focus on clean and renewable energy, but BC Hydro estimates that phasing out Burrard Thermal will also save tens of millions of dollars in maintenance and capital costs in the coming decade.

McCarthy Tétrault Notes:

British Columbia has clearly accelerated its clean power agenda. The province is dedicated to become electricity-selfsufficient by 2016, and will do so by developing green power that creates new economic and employment opportunities. The new task force and cabinet committee will provide expertise and analyses that will help maximize these opportunities, and will foster BC’s emergence as a powerhouse in the global green energy sector.

McCarthy Tétrault partner Cheryl Slusarchuk is a chair of one of the task force groups.