BC releases energy and emissions reduction plan

Victoria, Canada – The government of British Columbia has released its Energy Plan, outlining policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency, and promote clean energy development in the province.

The new BC Energy Plan follows the recent Speech from the Throne in which Premier Gordon Campbell introduced significant targets related to greenhouse gas emissions and clean energy.

The plan includes the pledges made during that speech:

  • All new electricity projects developed in B.C. will have zero net greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Existing thermal generation power plants will reach zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2016.

  • Zero greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired electricity generation.

  • Clean or renewable electricity generation will continue to account for at least 90 per cent of total generation.

  • Elimination of all routine flaring at oil and gas producing wells and production facilities by 2016 with an interim goal to reduce flaring by half (50 per cent) by 2011.

The plan also sets a target to obtain “50 per cent of BC Hydro’s incremental resource needs” through conservation by 2020. Policies to achieve this include improved consumer education, new rate structures to encourage efficiency, and support for energy-efficient products and practices through regulations, codes and standards. The province will develop ‘cost effective energy efficiency standards for new buildings’ buildings by 2010.

Provincial utility BC Hydro will establish a standard offer program, setting a purchase price for small power projects up to 10 megawatts. This will allow producers of clean electricity or high efficiency electricity cogeneration to receive a set amount for power provided to the grid. A similar program in Ontario has been instrumental in developing new renewable energy in the province, but details of the BC plan have yet to be finalized.

As well, the plan indicates that BC Hydro and the Province will enter into initial discussions with First Nations, the Province of Alberta and communities for the long-planned Site C hydroelectric dam on the Peace River. The dam was originally proposed decades ago but has never been pursued, although BC Hydro has always maintained it as a future option.

The plan also includes a surcharge on public utilities to develop a fund for clean energy projects. A levy of less than one percent on domestic consumer utility bills will be used to collect $25 million each year for the “Innovative Clean Energy Fund”. The fund will be used to “encourage the commercialization of alternative energy solutions and new solutions for clean remote energy”.

To encourage the use of biomass energy and wood killed by the mountain pine beetle, a bioenergy strategy will include a BC Hydro call for proposals for electricity from sawmill residues, logging debris and beetle-killed timber.

Transportation will be targeted, with a goal of reducing the carbon intensity of all passenger vehicles by 10 per cent by 2020. Measures will research and development demonstration projects to promote new technologies in BC and around the world, particularly in the hydrogen and fuel cell sector. By working with governments, industry and hydrogen alliances, BC will create a new, harmonized regulatory framework for hydrogen by 2010, says the plan.

BC will also enact a five per cent average renewable fuel standard for diesel by 2010. This expands on federal plan which calls for a five percent renewable fuels standard for gasoline by 2010, and a two percent standard for diesel fuel and heating oil used in Canada by no later than 2012.

As announced in the Throne speech, a Climate Action Team will be established to work with First Nations, other governments, industries, environmental organizations, and the scientific community to determine viable sector targets for 2012 and 2016.

More on the plan can be found at energyplan.gov.bc.ca.

Endless Energy possible for BC

The provincial Energy Plan echoes many of the themes contained in the recent report of the GLOBE Foundation that shows that British Columbia could be energy self-sufficient by 2025 from renewable sources alone, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions to well below year 2000 levels.

The Endless Energy Report confirms that unlike most areas of the world, a sustainable energy economy in British Columbia based on renewable energy sources is possible. The province’s renewable energy potential is such that it could be 100% energy self sufficient within 20 years without undue social or economic hardship. Not only would this provide long-term, secure and stable energy supply for the provincial economy, it would provide some insulation from world energy shocks.

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