Article by Ron Stuber, Keith Bustard And Jeffrey
Introduction and Objectives
The government of British Columbia tabled the Clean Energy
Act (the "Act") on April 28, 2010. This draft
legislation has the potential to significantly impact the energy
sector in the province. The Act is a clear response by the
government to the recent ruling by the B.C. Utilities Commission
(the "Commission") that BC Hydro's 2008 Long-Term
Acquisition Plan, a plan highly focused on the development of clean
energy in the province, was not "in the public interest".
The Act opens the door for the export of clean energy to other
jurisdictions. As of the date of publication, the Act has only
passed first reading in the legislature and its final form could
contain important changes.
The Act establishes a number of different objectives for the
energy sector in B.C. Among the most important goals are to:
achieve electricity self-sufficiency by 2016;
become a net exporter of electricity from clean or renewable
generate at least 93% of the electricity in B.C. from clean or
renewable resources and to build the infrastructure necessary to
transmit that electricity;
establish concrete targets for reductions in both provincial
electricity demand and greenhouse gas emissions;
encourage the use and development of green and renewable energy
foster the development of First Nation and rural communities
through the development of green and renewable energy
Consolidation of B.C. Hydro and BCTC
The Act consolidates the BC Transmission Corporation
("BCTC") and BC Hydro. All of BCTC's assets, rights,
liabilities, property and contracts are to be transferred to BC
Hydro. BC Hydro is tasked with several new responsibilities,
including the creation of an integrated resource plan outlining
means of servicing the province's energy demands over the next
30 years. The energy plan must address infrastructure development,
demand reduction initiatives and energy export policies. BC Hydro
is also required to develop prescribed long-term energy sales
contracts for domestic consumers. The plan must generally rely on
no energy and no capacity from the Burrard Thermal Plant, a
conventional natural gas-fired generating station.
Reduction in the Commission's Role
The role of the Commission is significantly reduced. The
Commission's approval is no longer required for many of the
province's "marquee" energy projects. These projects
include the Clean Power Call, Site C, the Northwest Transmission
Line, the Standing Offer Program and several other listed
generation projects. The Commission does, however, maintain its
authority to establish rates for domestic electricity usage.
Standing Offer and Feed-in Tariff Programs
The Act modifies the Standing Offer Program published in June
2008 by allowing it to accept projects capable of producing more
than the initially established 10- megawatt threshold. If selected
by BC Hydro, these larger projects can enter into standard form
electricity purchase agreements.
The Act also grants BC Hydro the ability to establish a feed-in
tariff program for provincial energy production. Feed-in tariff
programs are generally designed to encourage the use and
development of renewable energy through provisions granting
long-term supply contracts, access to transmission systems and
purchase prices linked to the sources of energy production.
The Act protects certain specified "heritage assets"
by reinforcing the prohibition on their sale, thereby ensuring they
remain under BC Hydro's control. Heritage assets are
specifically designated low-cost projects which are intended to
provide the province with electricity.
Smart Meter Program
The Act also requires BC Hydro to establish a "smart
meter" program which involves the installation of electricity
usage monitors in private residences. The information recorded by
these meters will help BC Hydro plan and develop future
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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