British Columbia's New Energy Plan

Today, the BC Government announced another in a series of many energy plans and strategies. The 2012 Natural Gas Strategy actually puts energy front and centre for economic development in the Province. The policy is big on ideas, but short on details.

According to the Government, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is to be the key driver for the provincial economy for decades to come.  The global demand for liquefied natural gas is strong and BC's estimated natural gas reserves are substantial. Local First Nations have expressed support for LNG facilities and the pipelines that will bring the natural gas from the North. Nominating LNG as a pillar of the BC economy makes good sense. How the new energy plan is implemented is of course, critical.

For the BC renewable energy industry, growing the demand for electricity in the Province is a good thing. The important decision is how much of the new LNG development will be powered by renewable energy and how much will be from natural gas. The Gas Strategy seems to state that the first two LNG facilities in Kitimat, BC will be required to be fueled by renewable energy. The problem right now is the Province is short on renewable energy generation and even shorter on transmission.  Much needs to happen on both fronts before the Government's LNG objectives can be met.

Not to be forgotten are the Province's climate change goals.  Extracting and exporting more natural gas will put increased pressure on the Province's greenhouse gas emission objectives.

British Columbia is at a cross-road with respect to climate change policy and economic growth. The Province is blessed with an abundance of natural gas and buyers in Asia are willing to pay for it. At the same time, to its credit, the Province has laws which restrict GHG emissions. A clear and obvious hedge against GHG emissions is renewable energy. The challenge for the Province is to balance economic growth with a GHG intensive industry with its climate change laws.

Renewable energy will play an important role in the development of the Provincial economy. New electricity infrastructure, both generation and transmission, is critical to meet the opportunity presented to the Province.  Both mining for minerals and turning natural gas into liquefied form (LNG) for export, require massive amounts of energy. Meeting this new demand with renewable electricity with natural gas as a possible backup is smart fiscal and environmental policy.  GHG emissions are lower when electricity from renewable resources is used rather than natural gas to power the Province. 

In the coming days or months, we expect to see further details on the following issues:

  • The Province's definition of "clean".  Does this mean renewables only?
  • The BC Hydro grid. Is there sufficient electricity on the existing transmission grid for Apache Phase 1, Apache Phase 2 and Douglas Channel LNG facilities?
  • Carbon capture and storage. Really? Where?
  • Infrastructure Royalty Program Credits. Will this be available for electricity infrastructure (ie, new or upgraded transmission lines) ?
  • Self-sufficiency changes. Drought insurance is gone. What now? Increase in imports?  

Provided development of the natural gas fields and the mines in the North are in compliance with world class environmental practices, in cooperation and participation with First Nations and local communities, British Columbia is well positioned to be a major player in the new world economy. Some new thinking on old ideas is needed. But let's get it done while the opportunity is there.

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BC Clean Energy Act Becomes Law

On June 3, 2010, the Clean Energy Act (the “CEA”) received Royal Assent in the BC Legislature. The Province of British Columbia now has a dedicated piece of renewable energy legislation, rather than a set of well intentioned plans and policies.

The CEA is a progressive law and the product of the government's long standing commitment to clean energy and reducing greenhouse gases. In essence, the CEA puts into law, key objectives of the government's two Energy Plans (from 2002 and 2007) and its 2008 Climate Action Plan. The CEA lays the foundation for the renewable energy industry to be the economic driver in the Province for years to come.

The CEA also came to be, in part through the efforts of the Green Energy Advisory Task Force, of which I was privileged to be a member. The comprehensive Task Force report can be found here. It's a must read for any one interested in British Columbia energy policy.

The CEA is truly a made in BC piece of legislation, touching on many of the fundamental socio-economic and environmental issues in British Columbia today, like job creation, economic development in first nations and rural communities, greenhouse gas reduction, energy efficiency and clean energy project development. While the CEA codifies existing policy and introduces some new concepts into law, much of it at this stage is enabling legislation. The nuts and bolts of the CEA will be filled in by regulation over time.

Below is a summary of what we think are the key parts of the CEA:

  • The Province is to achieve electricity self-sufficiency by 2016, plus 3,000 GWh of insurance by 2020
  • The demand-side management target is raised to an aggressive 66%
  • It sets a clean and renewable energy target (an RPS if you will) of 93% (the highest standard anywhere in North America)
  • The Province is to become a net exporter of electricity from clean and renewable resources, with BC Hydro being the aggregator and with matters regarding exports being exempt from BCUC regulation (this is a particularly notable and significant part of the law)
  • Certain major electricity projects are also exempted from BCUC regulation
  • BC Hydro is to deliver comprehensive Integrated Resource Plans (replacing the LTAP's) to Cabinet, every 5 years
  • BC Hydro is made stronger by its merger and re-integration with BC Transmission Corp.
  • No clean energy projects are permitted in parks or conservancies
  • Environmental cumulative impacts of clean energy projects are to be taken into consideration in the Environmental Assessment Act
  • There is a feed-in-tariff, but only for emerging technologies (ie, ocean and others to be prescribed)
  • Smart meters are to be added by 2012
  • Creates a First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund (with details to be prescribed by regulation)
  • Mandates reductions of BC's greenhouse gases for prescribed periods to 2050
  • Standing Offer Program to be revamped (ie, prices, size and included technologies)

As you can see, the CEA is a complex piece of legislation, one which endeavours to shape the future of British Columbia. We applaud the government for passing this forward-looking and game changing law. Over the coming weeks, our goal with this blog is to provide some deeper insight into what the CEA means to the various stakeholders in the Province. So please continue reading our blog.

In the meantime, here is the link to the Government's website on the CEA which contains some good information in the backgrounders. In addition, there is a new website dedicated to BC's clean energy, called Power of BC. It's also a good resource. As you can see, the government seems to be more committed than ever to clean energy, which, in our view is a great step forward.

You can also follow me and the Megawatt Blog on Twitter.

British Columbia Introduces Clean Energy Act

Today, the British Columbia government introduced the much anticipated Clean Energy Act into the BC Legislature.

Here is a copy of the first reading of the Act (Bill 17) and here is the government's press release on the annoucement.

Finally, it is worth to check out the government's website for the Clean Energy Act which contains some good background information on the Province's new clean energy plan.

More analysis to come....still need to digest all of this.

It was also great to see the government release a report on the Green Energy Advisory Task Force. It was a pleasure to be a part of this group and happy to see many of the Task Force recommendations now forming part of the new Clean Energy Act. Here is a copy of the full Green Energy Advisory Task Force report.

Site C - Adding Capacity to BC's Storage Advantage

Today, the Province of BC announced plans to build a 900 MW hydro-electric dam on the Peace River in northern BC, the project known as Site C. It will be a public project and its development is subject to permitting, and first nations and community consultation. Here is a link to the Vancouver Sun's story.

This is a bold but necessary move by a government looking to build more clean renewable power in the Province. Hydro-electric power is a reliable and preferred form of electricity generation in British Columbia with a great history. Premier W.A.C Bennett's hydro-electric vision in the 1960's helped the Province develop to what it is today. The incredible legacy dam system he provided now allows British Columbians to enjoy the fruits - inexpensive, domestically generated, clean electricity.

There are many reasons to build Site C but for the renewable energy industry in British Columbia, one of the most important aspects is the Province moving to increase its electricity storage capacity. 
 
The backbone of any electricity system is the ability to generate electricity at will, from its reserves. Electricity in its basic form (electrons) does not keep for very long. Fortunately, it can be stored in other forms. Commonly, it is coal or natural gas, but each of those has its own set of undesirable CO2 emission attributes. Due to some fortunate topography and the vision of Premier Bennett, British Columbia has considerable clean storage capacity located in its heritage dams.

In addition to providing enough electricity to power approximately 410,000 homes, Site C and its potential 900 MW of capacity will also be used for its storage capacity to support the massive development of new renewable power, such as wind, run-of-river hydro and solar . These renewable power sources are intermittent in nature and require additional resources to shape and make the power generated from those fuel sources more firm and acceptable to transmission grid operators.

Using BC Hydro's network of dams to firm or shape intermittent renewable power generated in British Columbia is smart policy. If the goal is to sell into the export market, it then makes economic sense to ensure that the BC electrons are firm and nicely shaped, and would command premium prices. In addition, BC firmed and shaped electrons become that much more valuable and have significant advantage over jurisdictions which use coal or natural gas to shape power from intermittent sources. Bottom line - you simply cannot expect to have strong domestic wind, run-of-river or solar energy industries in British Columbia without the complementary storage capacity.

So, after years of speculation, we now know that Site C will finally proceed to the permitting stage. There is much work yet to be done, but if successful, the massive storage capacity of Site C and BC's heritage dam system will provide valuable battery-like capability to the great benefit of the Province's renewable energy industry and to the Province as a whole. With the existing heritage dams and eventually Site C, BC is well positioned to harness the power and maximize economic value from its clean energy natural resources.

BC's 2010 Throne Speech - Untapping BC's Clean Energy Potential

Today, the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia delivered the Speech from the Throne (click to read), which opened the Second Session of the 39th Parliament of British Columbia.  

The 2010 Olympics and the economy were principal topics of course, but the BC government's commitment to revamping the Province's clean energy industry also featured prominently. Below are some of the highlights from the Speech relevant to the clean energy sector:

  • The BC government will take a fresh look at B.C.'s regulatory regimes, including the BC Utilities Commission.
  • BC can harness [BC's untapped energy] potential to generate new wealth and new jobs in its communities while it lower greenhouse gas emissions within and beyond our borders.
  • Clean energy is a cornerstone of BC's Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one‑third by 2020.
  • Building on the contributions of the Green Energy Advisory Task Force, the BC government will launch a comprehensive strategy to put BC at the forefront of clean energy development.
  • BC has enormous potential in bioenergy, run‑of‑river, wind, geothermal, tidal, wave and solar energy. We will put it to work for our economy.
  • The BC government will introduce a new Clean Energy Act to encourage new investments in independent power production while also strengthening BC Hydro.
    • It will provide for fair, predictable, clean power calls.
    • It will feature simplified procurement protocols and new measures to encourage investment and the jobs that flow with it.
  • New investment partnerships in infrastructure that encourage and enable clean modes of transportation, such as electric vehicles, hydrogen‑powered vehicles and vehicles powered by compressed natural gas and liquid natural gas, will be pursued.
  • The BC government will support new jobs and private sector investment in wood pellet plants, cellulosic ethanol production, biomass gasification technologies and fuel cell technologies.
  • Bioenergy creates new uses for waste wood and beetle‑killed forests and new jobs for forest workers.
  • A new receiving license will give bioenergy producers new certainty of fiber supply, while a new stand‑as‑a‑whole pricing system will encourage utilization of logging residues and low‑grade material that was previously burned or left on the forest floor.
  • The BC government will optimize existing generation facilities and report on the Site C review this spring.
    • It will develop and capture B.C.'s unique capability to firm and shape the intermittent power supply that characterizes new sources of clean energy to deliver reliable, competitively‑priced, clean power — where and when it is needed most.
  • New conservation measures, smart meters and in‑home displays will help maximize energy savings. New smart grid investments and net metering will provide more choices and opportunities for reduced energy costs and more productive use of electricity.
  • New transmission investments will open up the Highway 37 corridor to new mines and clean power.
  • New transmission infrastructure will link Northeastern B.C. to our integrated grid, provide clean power to the energy industry and open up new capacity for clean power exports to Alberta, Saskatchewan and south of the border.
  • We will seek major transmission upgrades with utilities in California and elsewhere.
  • If the Province act with clear vision and concerted effort now, in 2030, people will look back to this decade as we look to the 1960s today.

With significant investment in green energy being made elsewhere, both in Canada and the US,  we hope that today's Speech from the Throne demonstrates the BC government's commitment to building the Provincial economy in part with the support of the clean energy sector.

Update: Public Submissions Invited by Green Energy Advisory Task Force

The BC Government announced today that it wants to hear from the public about its ideas on the future of clean and renewable energy in British Columbia.

The Green Energy Advisory Task Force met for the first time over two days at the end of last week and it now invites submissions from the public on any of the four task force groups topics:

  • clean energy procurement and regulatory reform;
  • carbon pricing, trading and clean energy export market development;
  • community engagement and First Nations partnerships; and
  • clean energy resource development.
The public may make submissions directly to the Green Energy Advisory Task Force until December 31.
 
For more information on how to make a submission please see the Green Energy Advisory Task Force public submissions webpage (click for the link).
 
These are important topics, each having an impact on the future economic, environmental and community development of the province.  The Province is welcoming the public's input on these topics.

BC's Green Energy Advisory Task Force

Following up on the BC Government's August 2009 throne speech and the Premier's announcement on November 2, 2009, today, the BC Government announced the members of, and the terms of reference for, BC's Green Energy Advisory Task Force. 

 
Here is the weblink for public submissions, which can be made on any of the four task force topics until December 31.
 
I am very pleased to have been appointed to be a part of a team that will advance BC's long-term vision for green energy.
 
Reporting directly to the Cabinet Committee on Climate Action and Clean Energy, the Green Energy Advisory Task Force will comprise of the following 4 advisory task force groups:
  • Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Procurement and Regulatory Reform
    This task force will recommend improvements to BC Hydro’s procurement and regulatory regimes to enhance clarity, certainty and competitiveness in promoting clean and cost-effective power generation; and identify possible improvements to future clean power calls and procurement processes.
  • Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Carbon Pricing, Trading and Export Market Development
    This task force will develop recommendations to advance British Columbia’s interests in any future national or international cap and trade system, and to maximize the value of B.C.’s green-energy attributes in all power generated and distributed within and beyond B.C. borders. The task force will also develop recommendations on carbon-pricing policies and how to integrate these policies with any cap and trade system developed for B.C.
  • Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Community Engagement and First Nations Partnerships
    This task force will develop recommendations to ensure that First Nations and communities see clear benefits from the development of clean and renewable electricity and have a clear opportunity for input in project development in their areas. It will work in partnership with First Nations, not only to respect their constitutional right, but to open up new opportunities for job creation and reflect the best practices in environmental protection.
  • Green Energy Advisory Task Force on Resource Development
    This task force will identify impediments to and best practices for planning and permitting new clean, renewable-electricity generation to ensure that development happens in an environmentally sustainable way. The task force will also consider allocation of forest fibre to support energy development and invite input from solar, tidal, wave and other clean energy sectors to develop strategies to enhance their competitiveness.
BC has tremendous green energy potential and we are pleased that the government is taking steps that will help turn British Columbia's energy potential into real economic, environmental and social benefits for all British Columbians.

Update: BC's Clean Power Call - BC Hydro Narrows the Field

BC Hydro announced today that it has narrowed the field of proponents for its 2008 Clean Power Call and intends to award EPA's in December.

According to BC Hydro's press release, of the 68 proposals submitted in the response to the Call: 

  • 21 were eliminated either through proponent withdrawal, they did not meet the CPC requirements or were considered too high a risk;
  • 13 were identified as the most cost-effective and are now moving forward with direct post-proposal discussions with BC Hydro with the goal of signing electricity purchase agreements (EPA's); and
  • 34 still remain possible, provided the proposals are made more cost-effective.

Names of any of the 13 proponents or projects were not disclosed, but here is a list of the 47 projects that remain in the Call.

Of interest, here is the Vancouver Sun's story on the announcement.

As its press release indicates, BC Hydro intends to award EPA's in December and then plans to file the agreements with the BCUC in early 2010 for final approval pursuant to Section 71 of the BC Utilities Commission Act.
 
The Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources summed up these next steps and what it means to the province most appropriately:
 
Clean, renewable energy continues to be a cornerstone of B.C.'s Climate Action Plan. At the same time, the development of a clean energy sector will create jobs and new economic opportunities in B.C. 
 
The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the development of a renewable power industry will mean B.C. will have more allowances to allocate to the cap and trade system, which is good for B.C.'s economy.
BC Hydro's announcement today and the impending award of EPA's under the Clean Power Call is welcomed good news for the renewable energy sector. But more importantly, the opportunity that clean power represents is great news for the future of our Province.
 
If you are so inclined, you can follow me and Megawatt on Twitter.

 

Update: BCUC Section 5 Transmission Inquiry - On Hold

On Friday, the BCUC notified intervenors that all future scheduled workshops and regional sessions for the Section 5 Transmission Inquiry were postponed pending further notification. Here is a copy of the BCUC's notice.

Today, the Vancouver Sun reported that the temporary halt to the 7 month old transmission inquiry is believed to be based on the government's desire to properly align its interests with those of BC Hydro and BCTC on matters relating to the development and export of green power in the province and the recent rulings made by the BCUC.

The Inquiry has encountered lengthy delays for a number of reasons, including as a result of delays in the provision of key evidence, by important first nations consultation issues and more recently, by an intervenor proposal that would see a first nations advisory panel being formed.

Obviously, stay tuned, there is much more to come on this.

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California's New Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard - Good News For BC's Green Energy Exports

On Saturday, California's aggressive renewable energy standard passed in the State Legislature.  Governor Schwarzenegger will veto the Bill (SB 14) and instead signed an executive order on Tuesday this week which will require California utilities to obtain 33% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020 (the most stringent standard in the US). The long awaited and much debated Bill failed to gain the Governor's signature for a number of reasons, but most importantly to those of us outside the State, because of the so-called "buy California" provisions contained in the Bill, which would have prohibited California utilities from purchasing out-of-state power from such places as British Columbia.
 
With the executive order, the Governor, among other things, eliminated from the Bill the so-called "protectionist policies" which in essence allows California utilities to purchase electricity from outside the state. This is extremely positive news to renewable energy industry in BC as the Governor's executive order follows quite nicely with the BC government's recent throne speech which highlighted the province's export potential for renewable energy generated within British Columbia. Now it appears that BC will have a willing buyer for its surplus green energy in the California state utilities. Next up, signing some EPA's with the California utilities and building the transmission infrastructure.
 
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BC Throne Speech - A Major Boost For Green Energy

Today, the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia delivered the Speech from the Throne (click to read) to open the 2009 Legislative Session: 1st Session, 39th Parliament of the BC Legislature.

For BC's renewable energy sector which has been looking for a new commitment from the BC Government, the Throne Speech was most definitely that.

Here are the specific renewable energy highlights direct from the Speech: 

·         Green energy will be a cornerstone of British Columbia's climate action plan.

·         Electricity self-sufficiency and clean, renewable power generation will be integral to our effort to fight global warming.

·         The BC Utilities Commission will receive specific direction.

·         Phasing out Burrard Thermal is a critical component of B.C.'s greenhouse gas reduction strategy.

·         Further, this government will capitalize on the world's desire and need for clean energy, for the benefit of all British Columbians.

·         Whether it is the development of Site C, run-of-river hydro power, wind, tidal, solar, geothermal, or bioenergy and biomassBritish Columbia will take every step necessary to become a clean energy powerhouse, as indicated in the BC Energy Plan.

·         Government will use the means at its disposal to maximize our province's potential for the good of our workers, our communities, our province and the planet.

·         While these forms of power require greater investment, in the long run, they will produce exponentially higher economic returns to our province, environmental benefits to our planet and jobs throughout British Columbia.

·         High-quality, reliable, clean power is an enormous economic advantage that will benefit every British Columbian in every part of this province for generations to come.

·         Ready access to clean, affordable power has been a huge strategic incentive to industrial development in British Columbia.

·         We will build on past successes with new strategies aimed at developing new clean, renewable power as a competitive advantage to stimulate new investment, industry and employment.

·         Growing knowledge industries like database management and telecommunications will increasingly look for new places to invest and create jobs that have clean, reliable, low-carbon, low-cost power.

·         New energy producers will be looking for long-term investments leveraged through long-term power contracts that give them a competitive edge in our province.

·         B.C.'s multiple sources of clean, renewable energy are far preferable to reliance on other dirtier forms of power.

·         We will open up that power potential with new vigour, new prescribed clean power calls and new investments in transmission. New approaches to power generation, transmission and taxation policies will create new high-paying jobs for British Columbia's families.

·         A new Green Energy Advisory Task Force will shortly be appointed to complement the work of the BCUC's long-term transmission requirement review.

·         That task force will be asked to recommend a blueprint for maximizing British Columbia's clean power potential, including a principled, economically-viable and environmentally-sustainable export development policy.

·         It will review the policies, incentives and impediments currently affecting B.C.'s green power potential, and it will identify best practices employed in other leading jurisdictions.

·         We will promote biomass power solutions and convert landfill waste into clean energy that reduces harmful methane gas emissions.

·         The government has mandated methane capture from landfills to ensure we deal responsibly with our own waste and convert it to clean energy where practicable.

Update: BCUC Section 5 Transmission Inquiry

Following up from our earlier blog post on the Section 5 Transmission Inquiry, after almost four months of workshops and procedural conferences, the BCUC continues to narrow the scope of the issues for the Inquiry. Stakeholder consultation is on-going and the two principal utility participants are holding workshops and inviting comments from participants on specific issues (BC Hydro on resource option potential and BCTC on its scenario development process and the export study) before September 18 when the first draft "evidence" is submitted by BC Hydro and BCTC.

Two weeks ago, after an uncomfortably long but ultimately productive oral hearing on the scope of issues for the Inquiry, the BCUC released its preliminary determinations on the scope and scale for the next steps in the long-term analysis of the transmission system. The issues addressed in the BCUC's July 10 letter on preliminary determinations focused mainly on the following issues

  • provincial generation potential
  • domestic electricity demand
  • interjurisdictional trade (import and export of electricity)
  • analysis of the transmission system
  • areas inappropriate for development
  • integration of generation, demand and transmission requirement
As you can see, the issues are very broad and the analysis at a very high-level.
 
Yesterday, over 200 participants attended a BC Hydro workshop in Vancouver on the Province's renewable energy resource option potentialBC Hydro's presentation included a series of renewable energy resource maps of the Province showing potential sites for run-of-river, large hydro and pumped storage, wind, geothermal, biomass, solar and, wave and tidal. BC Hydro also provided detailed maps on so-called "exclusion areas" (ie, legal no build zones) and potential regional power clusters. I found the maps to to be very very interesting, albeit not particularly site specific. If you interested in where the renewable energy potential is in British Columbia you have to check out these maps (I am told the materials will be available on the BC Hydro site sometime soon).  BC Hydro has asked that stakeholders provide it with confidential comments on BC Hydro's version of the Province's resource option potential by August 14. Stakeholders may also submit their own comments directly to the BCUC through the Inquiry process. 
 
There is also a significant First Nations element to the Inquiry. The first issue which the BCUC is addressing in this regard, is the duty to consult and accommodate First Nations in the context of the Inquiry. I won't at this time get into the complex legal issues on the subject, but a further procedural conference on First Nations issues is scheduled at the BCUC on August 18 and 19, 2009 and written submissions are now being made.

With over 105 registered participants, the Section 5 Transmission Inquiry is certainly one of the most followed hearings ever before the BCUC, and one of the more interesting, especially with respect to the future development of renewable energy resources in this Province.

Continue Reading...

BC Hydro to Aquire 1/3 Stake in Trail's Waneta Dam

Today, BC Hydro announced its plans to acquire a direct 1/3 ownership interest in Teck Resources owned 493 MW Waneta Dam for $825 million by signing a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Teck.

As the BC Hydro press release states, subject to due diligence and regulatory approval, the BC Hydro purchase will secure approximately 1,000 GWh of energy per year of firm energy for BC Hydro, or enough to power approximately 100,000 homes annually.  This energy, which is surplus to the needs of Teck's nearby smelter located in Trail, BC, has historically been sold on the open market, primarily to US buyers. 

"The agreement will go a long way towards helping us meet the B.C. Energy Plan goal of making the province electricity self-sufficient by 2016," said Blair Lekstrom, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. "Equally important, this agreement will provide cost-effective energy from a publicly owned asset, helping to keep our province's electricity rates among the lowest in North America.

I don't know if this acquisition says more about Teck's need for cash or BC Hydro's need for more firm power, but at $825,000 per GWh, it is a rather expensive purchase for BC Hydro and a good deal for Teck. I wonder if BC Hydro will continue to sell it to US buyers through Powerex or keep the electrons here in BC. Bottom line - BC Hydro has more firm power to use or trade.

BTW - Megawatt is now on twitter

Hydro-Québec: Canada's Power Export King

The Globe and Mail reported that the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today approved a funding arrangement for the construction of a major transmission line that will cross into the United States from Quebec to become part of the U.S. energy grid.  FERC has even agreed to exclude the cost of the 1,200 MW transmission line from the rates charged to consumers.

Essentially, this means that FERC has, for the first time, recognized Hydro-Québec's hydroelectricity as a "clean" source of energy, meaning Quebec can now participate in the Obama clean energy policy and help New England move away from gas-fired power.

This new development certainly helps British Columbia's prospects in exporting electricity to the California market. Now, all BC has to do is woo the Californians.

Update: US EPA Comments on Draft American Clean Energy and Security Act

Following up from my previous post on the introduction of the Waxman-Markey Discussion Draft, the US Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) yesterday released its analysis of the draft American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACESA).  Here is a copy of the full analysis, or if you prefer, the summary.

What is most interesting to me, as the NY Times reported, the E.P.A.’s analysis suggests that under the draft plan, the share of low-carbon and zero-carbon energy sources — including renewables like wind and solar, as well as nuclear and carbon-capture plants — would rise to 26 percent of the nation’s energy mix by 2030, and could reach 46 percent by 2050. Without the policy, that share would remain at a steady 14 percent, the E.P.A. estimated. 

In short, the ACESA would be an incredible boon to the renewable energy sector in the United States, and I would contend for Canada as well, for two principal reasons. First, the draft Act provides for carbon offsets to be obtained from both domestic and international sources. Good news for Canada. Second, any US climate change legislation would certainly have to be followed to a great extent in Canada. I just can't imagine a US carbon regulated marketplace allowing trade with an non-carbon regulated Canadian market.

Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, we must understand that the US Congress is currently examining the draft legislation, and in all likelihood, the draft ACESA will be watered down by the special interests. But the renewable energy sector in Canada would be well served to follow the progress of this Act because its passing will mean a tremendous amount to our renewable energy sector, especially for the offset market but also for energy exports.  At minimum, Canadian companies looking to trade with the US, will have to comply with the new US carbon standards and regulations. 

First Nations vs IPP Critics, Electric Cars, BC Net Imports or Exports and the Oslo Experience

Two BC First Nations Lash Out at IPP Critics.The Shishálh Nation (Sechelt) and Klahoose First Nation recently sent a scathing letter to six organizations which have been vocal in their opposition to independent power projects located within the Nations' traditional territories.

While severely critical of the tactics employed by the opponent groups, the March 20, 2009 letter also re-affirms that, as the historical stewards of their traditional lands, First Nations are quite involved in the environmental review process of IPP projects located within their tranditional territories. The letter says essentially "back-off critics, we have this under control. And show us our proper (and court ordered) respect". I can definitely see their point. There is no group better situated to act as environmental watchdog on IPP projects, which are typically located in more remote communities, than the various First Nations. So, I think it's important to listen to what is being said here. See also the Vancouver Sun's recent article on the subject.

BC to Pioneer New Electric Car: BC Hydro, the Province, the City of Vancouver and Mitsubishi Canada today announced that the i MiEv, the first production-ready, highway capable electric car will be on BC streets before the end of 2009.  It all starts with leadership and BC Hydro and the City of Vancouver are doing a great job of it with this technology. If electric cars are going to be the way of the future (which I believe they are), it is going to take considerable community cooperation to install the massive infrastructure required. Working together on projects such as this one, will only serve to hasten the advent of the electric car age.  I think that the i MiEv is a very slick car. I can't wait to get one.

Is BC an net importer or exporter of electricity? University of British Columbia Professor George Hoberg and Forestry student Christoper Mallon tackled this interesting question by analyzing data from numerous sources and they made some interesting finds. You can download the report here. The conclusion: it depends on the year, but the trend for the Province as a whole (not simply just BC Hydro) is towards net importing.

Oh, those (maybe not so) crazy Euros.  Now, we all can't be building wind farms and run-of-river projects can we? Sometimes green energy can be a plain nasty business. Check out what Oslo, Norway will soon be using to power their public transit system. Lovely. And cheap too! 

Exporting Power: The Eastern Canadian Way

While British Columbia festers in the rhetoric of the export vs import debate, two other Canadian Provinces have completed a historic transmission agreement to facilitate the export of electricity to the United States.

Quebec and Newfoundland announced today that Quebec has agreed to allow Newfoundland's Nalcor Energy to transport or "wheel" its excess electricity (generated by the Upper Churchill Hydroelectric station) through Hydro-Quebec's power lines to the Canada-U.S. Border, where Emera Energy Inc. (a Nova Scotia Power subsidiary) will market the Newfoundland born electrons to the Americans for profit.

This is being called "historic" because never before has Quebec permitted Newfoundland to transmit its own power through Quebec. What I see as historic is a Canadian Province publicly celebrating its excess green renewable energy and the prospect of exporting it to the Americans. No wonder, the 5 year deal is expected to generate between $40 and $80 million per year for Newfoundland. That will certainly keep the energy costs down at home.

My thoughts on the local export debate. Exporting its natural resources has been the backbone of this Province for as long as it's been around. Be it trees, coal, fish or natural gas (just to name a few), British Columbia has a enjoyed great many riches on the harvesting and export of its incredible natural endowment. Now, we have growing U.S. demand for our green electricity and the idea of developing and exporting this renewable natural resource is upsetting to some people? This just doesn't make sense, and is undeniably hypocritical. I suggest that we answer the call by developing our renewable energy resources, we keep what we need and sell the rest to the Americans. Simple, straightforward and the British Columbia way.

Meanwhile...South of the Border: Introducing The American Clean Energy and Security Act

President Obama promised a commitment to green energy, and today, the United States Committee on Energy and Commerce delivered, through the introduction of new federal clean energy legislation that, according to the press release, "will create millions of clean energy jobs, put America on the path to energy independence, and cut global warming pollution."  

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACESA) is still in the draft stage, but it certainly looks promising, and I must admit to a bit of envy of our American friends and their progressive legislators.  Here is the Discussion Draft Summary (click to download) which is definitely worth reading (all I can say is wow!).  The New York Times' Green Inc. blog weighs in on the reaction to the controversial legislation.

The ACESA will focus on four principle areas:

  1. Clean Energy: which includes renewable energy load requirements at 6% in 2012 and a whopping 25% in 2025, carbon capture and sequestration, clean fuels and vehicles, smart grid and electricity transmission.
  2. Energy Efficiency: which includes new building and appliance standards, energy rebates, new fuel and emissions standards, and national energy efficiency standards.
  3. Reducing Global Warming Pollution: which includes a market-based program of "allowances" and "offsets" for electric utilities, oil companies, large industrial sources and other entities (looks alot like cap and trade), steps to preventing international deforestation and the introduction of additional greenhouse gas standards.
  4. Transitioning to a Clean Energy Economy: which includes measures to ensure domestic competitiveness in the form of rebates for companies which produce commodities that are traded globally, the promotion of green jobs, consumer assistance, export of clean tech and a high level response to global warming.

In Canada, we can't even begin to compare our green energy legislation to the Americans, there is definitely nothing like the proposed ACESA, which is definitely too bad, but perhaps also a goal for our country's leaders.  For some recent Canadian context, the federal government has just invested $140M with the major oil companies for carbon-capture projects (ugh!). In addition, the feds have not renewed the very successful (and green economy stimulating) Canadian ecoENERGY for Renewable Power program

In all, it remain to be seen what will become of the surely to be ACESA, but judging by the broad reach of the proposed legislation, the Obama Administration means business when it comes to the green economy. One thing is abundantly clear - the United States sees clean energy, energy efficiency and fighting climate change as part of the new world order and critical to the future of America. This leadership is something Canadians should recognize and the smart ones will harness the momentum from south of the border and work to create our own carbon-reduced green energy economy.  The green energy technology revolution:  you can't stop it, you can only hope to contain it.