BC's Energy Future requires policy changes

Vancouver, Canada – Last month the Premier’s Technology Council released its tenth report, which contained major recommendations regarding clean technology and the commercialization of innovation technology. In that report, the Council recommends policy changes that would enable BC’s energy plan to move beyond its current goals of energy self sufficiency by 2016 with an energy surplus of 3,000 GWh by 2026 allowing the province to become an annual net exporter of clean energy as early as 2020.

To accomplish this, the province would have to invest in new infrastructure, including smart grid technologies, to allow access to more supplies and enable system efficiencies; stimulation of conservation initiatives through such measures as public awareness/education and pricing structures including time based pricing; and new tariff structures that encourage the development of a broader range of renewable energy supply sources.

Key recommendations in the report are:

  • Recognizing the true value of our energy resources to support a greater commitment to clean energy, conservation and energy security.
  • Expanding the government’s commitment to energy self-sufficiency to include a power production reserve that addresses seasonal and annual reductions in power production due to climate change, potential increases in power demand for electric vehicles, and other economic development opportunities, including becoming an annual net exporter of clean energy by 2020.
  • Targeted investment in “smart grid” infrastructure design to increase conservation.
  • Greater flexibility in pricing such as time-base rates.
  • A tariff structure that encourages the development of new green energy supplies via appropriate “feed-in” tariffs that decline over time.

Noting that British Columbia, is one of the most environmentally aware jurisdictions in Canada, the Council stated the province is in an enviable position to provide clean energy and technology products and services to an ever-expanding market and that the BC Government should adopt a more facilitative stance to advance the industry as businesses in other sectors and consumers make the transition to clean technology and greener practices.

While endorsing BC’s Energy Plan goal for self-sufficiency, the Council recommended expanding that goal to include a power production reserve that can address seasonal and annual reductions in power production due to climate change, potential increases in power demand for electric vehicles or other economic development opportunities.

The Province argued it could become an annual net exporter of clean energy by 2020, but this would require adjustment of the pricing model for energy rate structures to facilitate investments in large scale clean power generation, the smart grid, demand-side energy management, and research and development for sustainable energy initiatives.

It would also mean that BC’s energy supply portfolio would include renewable energy fed into the system from a variety of sources, including large-scale geothermal, wind farm or bio-energy plants; midsized, run-of-river projects; or cogeneration facilities producing power for an urban village or a large institution that could feed excess power into the grid. Such supply projects might also include small-scale photovoltaic panels on buildings.

Such “distributed generation” would require the micromanagement of data and electricity flows, and possibly net metering on facilities that would sometimes draw energy from the grid and other times to feed into it. Currently, the metering and system is not sophisticated enough to manage these required elements of the proposed Energy Plan.

The Endless Energy report cites other economic benefits associated with an increase in the province’s renewable energy stock. It notes that because of the renewable portfolio standards adopted by the Western United States, there is already a market for BC’s clean energy. It could also address BC’s needs in other areas because British Columbia may need carbon credits from trading clean energy to meet its Greenhouse Gas targets.

“An energy surplus would provide the province with a buffer should estimates of demand prove too low, for example if there is an unexpected surge in the number of electric cars on the road, or if other industries decided to move to BC to access green energy, or if there is a failure to meet conservation targets.”

“The worldwide demand for cleaner, greener products and services, particularly energy, represents a tremendous opportunity for B.C.,” said Greg Peet, co-chair of the Premier’s Technology Council. “We believe this demand can be leveraged to generate growth in a sector where B.C. not only has tremendous resources but is rapidly building expertise.” View the full report of the Premier’s Technology Council.

For More Information: Government of British Columbia

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