Canada: New Clean Energy Act For British Columbia – Wide Ranging Changes Ahead

Last Updated: May 7 2010
Most Read Contributor in Canada, September 2016

On April 28, 2010, the British Columbia government introduced Bill 17, the Clean Energy Act, which heralds significant changes to the electrical energy regime in B.C.1

The Act was referenced in the B.C. government's most recent throne speech and has been anticipated for many months. The Act also builds on the work of the Green Energy Task Force, which the B.C. government established in November 2009. Many of the Task Force's recommendations are reflected in the Act.2

If passed in its existing form, the Act will trigger many new developments of interest to power industry participants. The Act has already drawn both praise and criticism from commentators, and seems certain to attract further examination and commentary in the near future.

Energy Objectives

The Act enshrines in legislation 16 energy objectives. These include achieving energy self-sufficiency, increasing reliance on both demand side measures (e.g., conservation and energy efficiency programs) and "clean or renewable resources" (i.e., biomass, biogas, geothermal heat, hydro, solar, ocean, wind, or other resources prescribed by government), fostering the development of innovative technologies that support energy conservation and efficiency and the use of clean or renewable resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to specified levels, and continuing to avoid the use of nuclear power, as well as others.

Electricity Export Opportunities – BC Hydro as Aggregator

The Act's objectives also include establishing British Columbia as a net exporter of electricity from clean or renewable resources.

The Act requires B.C.'s principal electric utility, British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority ("BC Hydro"), to submit an integrated resource plan to the government every five years. The plan must include, among other things, a description of the potential for the export of "clean" electricity, and the steps taken by BC Hydro to arrange for export opportunities. Upon receiving the plan, the government may require BC Hydro to initiate a process to acquire clean energy and capacity for export purposes, and secure any necessary transmission capacity.

BC Hydro, and supplier counterparties under export energy supply contracts, are exempt from the requirement to file the contracts with British Columbia Utilities Commission ("BCUC"), which regulates BC Hydro and other public utilities. In setting BC Hydro rates, the BCUC must not allow expenditures incurred by BC Hydro for exports.

The government has expressed its commitment to pursue export opportunities, and has indicated that BC Hydro will work to secure long-term export contracts and meet supply needs with clean power calls for renewable energy.

Additional Energy Project Initiatives

The Act provides direction on existing energy programs, and establishes some new programs.

  • BC Hydro must continue a standing offer program to acquire electricity from generation projects not exceeding 10MW, which may include high-efficiency cogeneration facilities or facilities that conform with requirements prescribed by government. The government has stated that it intends to update the terms and conditions for the existing standing offer program in consultation with industry.
  • Government may require BC Hydro to establish a feed-in-tariff program in accordance with requirements prescribed by government. The program may differ with respect to regions, prices and technologies. The government has stated that it intends to introduce a feed-in-tariff to promote the development of emerging technologies in renewable power production.
  • BC Hydro must implement the ongoing smart meter program by the end of 2012, and establish a program to put a smart grid into operation as directed by regulation.
  • BC Hydro must establish a program offering domestic long-term electricity sales contracts to prescribed customer classes, with price, volumes and contract term to be prescribed. This will provide some price certainty to these customers.
  • The BCUC must set rates for public utilities, including BC Hydro, that are sufficient to enable the recovery of costs incurred in respect of a program prescribed for the purposes of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The government has also expressed an intention to continue the following energy initiatives:

  • "Site C", a project to install a third dam on the Peace River in northeast B.C., which remains subject to environmental assessment and first nations consultation requirements. If constructed, Site C is expected to provide 900 MW of capacity, and 4,600 GWh / year of energy,
  • The Northwest Transmission Line, a new transmission line intended to electrify the Highway 37 corridor in northwest B.C.,
  • Turbine installation projects at the Mica dam (two new turbines) and the Revelstoke dam (one new turbine),
  • BC Hydro's current 2008 Clean Power Call to acquire up to 5,000 GWh / year of energy,
  • BC Hydro's current integrated power offer, involving energy purchase agreements with pulp and paper customers eligible for funding under Canada's Green Transformation Program, and
  • BC Hydro's upcoming Bioenergy Call for Power, Phase 2, to acquire up to 1,000 GWh / year from larger-scale biomass projects.

The Act exempts all these initiatives from the requirement to file electricity purchase agreements with the BCUC, or obtain "certificates of public convenience and necessity" for the construction or operation of plants or systems.

The Act also establishes a "First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund" special account, which the government will initially fund with an initial payment of up to $5 million, and which government may then increase (e.g., by "a prescribed percentage of prescribed land and water revenues the government derives from power projects"). Proceeds from the account may be applied by government to facilitate the participation of first nations in the clean energy sector. The Act does not yet detail the manner in which funds may be paid out.

Integration of BC Hydro and BCTC

The Act provides for the re-integration of BC Hydro and British Columbia Transmission Corporation ("BCTC") into a single entity, and the transfer of BCTC's assets, liabilities and employees to BC Hydro. The government has stated that this measure will provide BC Hydro with the opportunity capitalize on its ability to better manage generation and transmission facilities on an integrated basis. The transaction is generally exempt from review by the BCUC. Under the Act, BC Hydro's key generation, transmission and distribution assets will remain under public ownership.

The Act does not provide detail on whether the re-integration will include rules to provide for open-access to transmission services and/or preserve a separation of the generation and transmission functions.

New Planning Role for Government and Re-Alignment of BCUC's Regulatory Function

The government has emphasized that one of the Act's key measures is the provision of a new planning role for government that "sets the broad framework for B.C.'s domestic electricity needs and advances its energy objectives and priorities without regulatory redundancy". A government backgrounder provides further clarification on this point:

The Clean Energy Act affirms and modernizes the role of the BC Utilities Commission and its relationship to the provincial government's energy policy objectives. The province's goal is to ensure that there is alignment between the government's policy priorities, how BC Hydro delivers on these priorities, and how the BCUC provides regulatory oversight.

The BCUC will continue to regulate BC Hydro's domestic supply and rates. It will also continue to regulate the safety and reliability of the BC Hydro system, as well as regulate operation, management and administrative costs, and handle complaints from ratepayers regarding BC Hydro service.3

Indeed, the Act exempts many energy related programs and activities from the requirement to obtain BCUC approval. The Act also provides government with the authority to make regulations with respect to a broad array of energy related matters. A number of commentators have already suggested that measures contemplated in the Act may result in a substantial reduction of the BCUC's oversight of BC Hydro, and more direct control by government.

It seems likely that the Act will be passed in the coming months given the profile accorded to it by the B.C. government. We anticipate that further details and insights will become available as the legislation is debated and refined. BLG will continue to monitor and keep clients apprised of these developments.


1 A copy of the proposed Act can be found at For related information published by the B.C. government, see

2 See

3 See

About BLG

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.