Canada: BC Hydro Releases Its 2012 Draft Integrated Resource Plan

On May 28, 2012, BC Hydro released a draft of its Integrated Resource Plan 2012 (the "Plan"), a long-term forecast on the supply and demand for electricity in British Columbia. The Plan contains 14 recommended actions to meet the province's future electricity demands. BC Hydro aims to meet those demands via energy conservation and efficiency, supplemented by the purchase and construction of cost-competitive and reliable clean energy resources. The Plan does not commit BC Hydro to any specific capital projects; recommended courses of action are subject to subsequent approval and consultation requirements. Each recommended action is briefly highlighted below. For ease of reference, a table following this article lists all 14  recommendations.

BC Hydro anticipates that peak demand for electricity will grow by 50 per cent over the next 20 years, before accounting for the savings that can be achieved by current conservation and efficiency measures. Moreover, the province's load resource balance indicates that ratepayers will need an additional 4,900 gigawatt hours of energy by fiscal 2021. BC Hydro anticipates that an additional 12,500 gigawatt hours will be needed by 2031; however this figure is contingent upon the proposed Kitimat LNG plants proceeding as planned.

To close the gap between future electricity demands and existing supplies, BC Hydro will encourage residential, industrial, and commercial customers to implement energy conservation measures to reduce electricity consumption during peak periods. Further, BC Hydro plans to employ smart meters and revamped government codes and measures to assist in educating residential consumers to be more cognizant of energy conservation.

To bolster the effect of conservation, BC Hydro plans to increase the province's current energy supply by building Site C, a proposed hydroelectric dam on the Peace River in north-east British Columbia. Site C is projected to be operational by 2020. BC Hydro also intends to increase energy efficiency by creating improvements to existing infrastructure, such as installing a sixth generating unit in the Revelstoke Generating Station and reinforcing the transmission line from Prince George to Terrace.

Until Site C and infrastructure improvements are operational, BC Hydro plans to pursue readily-available energy resources to meet the province's short term energy needs. A combination of market purchases, power from the United States as part of the Columbia River Treaty, and reliance on the Burrard Thermal Generating Station are available options.

The development of energy procurement options from clean energy producers for projects that would come into service in the 2016-2018 time period is another recommended action. The majority of this additional energy is expected to come from wind, run-of-river and biomass projects, yet geothermal, wave, and tidal projects may be considered as well.

Contingency arrangements, should electricity demand grow faster than forecasted, are also contained within the Plan. Major developments in the gas industry along the province's north coast and in the Horn River Basin could significantly alter the Plan's energy forecast. BC Hydro will continue to monitor those potential projects and develop a range of options to satisfy associated energy needs. The Plan also includes further contingency options such as exploring the viability of pumped storage projects and natural gas-fired energy generation.

The Clean Energy Act directs BC Hydro to examine whether there exists any potential for the production of electricity for the purpose of export. As the Plan explains, current market conditions are not conducive to the export of electricity.

BC Hydro is seeking public and stakeholder feedback on the Plan between May 28 and July 6, 2012. Pursuant to the Clean Energy Act, a final version of the Plan will be submitted to the Minister of Energy by December 2012.

IRP's Fourteen Recommended Actions


Increase energy savings target to 9,800 GWh/year by F2021 (1,000 GWh/year more than the current plan) through conservation and efficiency programs, incentives and regulations.


Explore more codes, standards, and rate options for savings beyond the 9,800 GWh/year target. This action supports the recently introduced Bill 32 (Energy and Water Efficiency Act).


Pursue voluntary capacity-focused conservation programs that encourage residential, commercial and industrial customers to reduce energy consumption during peak periods.


Build Site C to add 5,100 GWh/year of annual energy and 1,100 MW of dependable capacity to the system for the earliest in-service date, subject to environmental certification and fulfilling of the Crown's duty to consult, and where appropriate, accommodate Aboriginal groups.


Begin work to allow the sixth generating unit at Revelstoke Generating Station to be built by F2019, adding 500 MW of peak capacity to the BC Hydro system.


Fill the short-term peak capacity gap from F2016 to F2021 with a combination of market purchases first, power from the Columbia River Treaty second, and extending the existing back-up use of Burrard Thermal Generating Station (Burrard), if required and as authorized by regulation.


Continue to investigate and advance cost-effective Resource Smart projects to utilize the remaining, untapped capacity within BC Hydro's existing hydroelectric system.


Reinforce the existing 500 kV line from Prince George (Williston Substation) to Terrace (Skeena Substation) to meet new demand on the North Coast.


Develop energy procurement options to acquire up to 2,000 GWh/year from clean energy producers for projects that would come into service in the F2017 to F2019 time period.


Explore pumped storage capacity options to reduce the lead time to in-service dates and to develop an understanding of where and how to site such future resources in the province, should they be needed.


Undertake work to maintain the earliest in-service date for a new 500 kV transmission line from Prince George to Terrace and Kitimat, and from the Peace River region to Prince George.


Develop procurement options for additional clean energy resources, backed-up by gas-fired generation — located either in the North Coast or both in the North Coast and across B.C. — for energy that could be delivered in the F2020-F2021 timeframe, should it be needed.


Explore natural gas-fired generation options to reduce the lead time to in-service dates and to develop an understanding of where and how to site such future resources in the province, should they be needed.


Continue to monitor the Northeast natural gas industry and undertake studies to keep open electricity supply options, including transmission connection to the integrated system and local gas-fired generation.

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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