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BC Hydro Review sets path for electrifying economy, supporting CleanBC

BC Hydro Review sets path for electrifying economy, supporting CleanBC

July 9, 2021 at 2:06 pm  BC, News, Politics

The Government of British Columbia launched a multi-phase review of BC Hydro in 2018.

Phase 1 focused on actions to keep BC Hydro rates affordable and enhance the B.C. Utilities Commission’s independent oversight of BC Hydro costs, rates and activities.

Phase 2 was initiated in July 2019 as a broad, transformational review to position BC Hydro to support the Province’s CleanBC plan and greenhouse gas reduction targets, while considering the significant shifts occurring in B.C. and continental energy sectors, evolving technologies and the changing needs of current and future BC Hydro customers.

The first set of recommendations from Phase 2 lays out a path to harness B.C.’s clean electricity, helping build a cleaner economy and better future for British Columbia.

That pathway is more important now than ever before.

Although electricity generation is 98% clean in B.C., it accounts for less than 20% of the province’s total energy use. That share is expected to shrink if fossil fuel use increases and the demand for electricity remains relatively flat. The economic shock of a global pandemic and the threat of a changing climate present additional challenges. However, these issues also present opportunities.

With 98% of its power being generated from clean or renewables resources, B.C.’s power generation is the cleanest in western North America. BC Hydro, serving more than two million customers, is responsible for most of the power generated in B.C. 

When looking at how other regions compare, B.C. has a significant lead, with its neighbours in Washington ranking second at 85% clean and Idaho in third at 78% clean. The lowest-ranking jurisdictions are 9% and 10% clean.

Ranking of/percentage of clean electricity by jurisdiction in western North America:

  1. British Columbia – 98%
  2. Washington – 85%
  3. Idaho – 78%
  4. Oregon – 69%
  5. California – 51%
  6. Montana – 45%
  7. Arizona – 39%
  8. Nevada – 24%
  9. Colorado – 21%
  10. New Mexico – 17%
  11. Wyoming – 11%
  12. Alberta – 10%
  13. Utah – 9%

B.C. can use its clean electricity advantage and meet CleanBC climate targets by replacing diesel, gasoline and natural gas with clean electricity and other low-carbon fuels to reduce greenhouse emissions and create good jobs for all British Columbians. Access to clean, reliable electricity supports the attraction of new clean technology and innovation customers to the province, including hydrogen and biofuel producers.

Clean electricity is also becoming an increasingly important trade commodity. As of July 2021, at least five western states have committed to meeting 100% of their electricity demand with clean energy by 2050, and others are likely to follow. This pace of transformation in the electricity sector is expected to accelerate.

Flexible, clean and reliable hydroelectricity will become even more valuable as these jurisdictions move to mostly intermittent clean and renewable electricity generation to meet climate targets. When BC Hydro’s trading subsidiary Powerex sells clean power sourced from B.C. to other utilities on the Western Interconnection, it not only provides BC Hydro with additional revenue to keep rates affordable in B.C., but also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere in western North America.

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