The Case For Electrifying BC's Natural Gas Fields

It is no secret that beneath the surface of the northeast section of the province of British Columbia lies very large natural gas reserves. Last week, the Provincial Government announced that it believes the province has an astounding 3.93 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas potential, of which 449 trillion cubic feet are estimated in the Montney gas field alone, roughly a 150 year supply (presumably based on current Canadian use).

Energy intensive natural gas processing and piping from the wellhead to the processing plants can be done using natural gas or electricity. In B.C., electricity from the BC Hydro grid is about 93% renewable. Given the expected long life span of the drilling activity in the Montney, it makes economic sense to electrify operations in this region. Any fear of stranded investment in electricity infrastructure is virtually eliminated.

The business case for electrifying the Montney gas fields including processing in B.C. is compelling. That it can be paid for is of course critical, but there are many more reasons:

  1. The Montney is located relatively close to the B.C. Hydro transmission grid and much of the new generation that would be required (wind and small hydro projects with thermal back-up);
  2. B.C.’s predominantly clean electricity makes for low emission gas extraction (attention: “Cleanest LNG in the World”);
  3.  A significant opportunity for the B.C. renewable energy industry, including First Nations (see Premier’s mandate letter to Minister Bennett);
  4.  First Nations participation in natural gas industry (see Premier’s mandate letter to Minister Rustad);
  5. Private sector investment, jobs and economic development in remote B.C. communities; and
  6. Royalty capture (less gas burned to produce gas, so more Provincial natural gas royalties).

Electrification of the fields and processing is not a novel concept. Just look at some current examples:

  1. The Bakken oil fields in North Dakota where the local utility, Basin Electric, is building a new 200 mile $347 million transmission line and two power plants;
  2. The Permian Basin oil fields in Texas will be serviced by the new $7 billion CREZ wind power supported transmission line; and
  3.  In eastern Ohio, electricity is being used for natural gas processing.

Here in B.C., the Northwest Transmission Line is being built to support future mining development in the northwest sector of the province. The electrification opportunity in the natural gas fields and processing plants is greater and even more certain that the mining potential.

The time for expansion of the B.C. transmission grid to support electrification is now. British Columbia has no shortage of renewable energy resources and developers keen to supply the electricity requirements of the natural gas industry.  Using clean renewable electricity to support large scale industrial development is a hallmark of this province. There are many good reasons to support electrification including reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. It is time to get on with it.

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Updated BC IPP Supply Map

Earlier this week, BC Hydro released an update in respect of the independent power producers(IPPs) currently supplying electricity to BC Hydro and those projects with EPAs but still under development. 

Keep in mind that the projects BC Hydro lists as IPPs include: Rio Tinto Alcan's hydro project, various forestry company biomass projects and the Waneta Expansion (not your garden variety IPPs, but certainly, "independent" of BC Hydro).

For your information: 

1. BC Hydro IPP supply map;

2. List of IPPs currently supplying electricity to BC Hydro; and

3. List of IPPs with projects in development,

(each current to October, 2013).

BC Clean Energy (IPP) Guidebook 2011 Version

In the Draft Integrated Resource Plan released this week, BC Hydro forecasts that "BC's electricity demand is expected to increase by about 50% over the next 20 years."  That is not a small amount. And based on the recommended actions contained in the Draft IRP, it is logical to assume that this increased demand will be supplied, in part, by the development of new clean and renewable energy projects in British Columbia (wind, hydro, biomass, ocean, geothermal and solar). 

So for those looking to undertake the development of clean energy projects in British Columbia, here a link to the new 2011 updated British Columbia Clean Energy Guidebook [pdf] prepared by the BC Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations specifically for clean energy project proponents in the Province. 

The Guidebook provides excellent information on a variety of key project development matters including: 

  • Where to begin?
  • Permitting
  • Preparing a Development Plan
  • Hydro Power
  • Wind Power
  • Other Power (Bioenergy, ocean and geothermal)
  • Environmental Assessment
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • First Nations Consultation
  • Transmission Interconnection

You will also find some important Q & A's on the Ministry's website.

BC Hydro Draft Integrated Resource Plan

Today, BC Hydro released the much anticipated draft Integrated Resource Plan - 2012 (IRP) (Executive Summary and draft IRP Discussion Guide) which is a long-term forecast on supply and demand for electricity in British Columbia.  Essentially, the IRP is to expected to be used as a key document for long-term electricity planning in the Province.

The draft report contains 14 recommended actions and is released to the public today for consultation until July 6, 2012. Then, sometime before December 2012, BC Hydro will submit the final IRP for approval by the BC Cabinet. People are invited to have a say at an IRP consultation event hosted by BC Hydro.

As expected, the draft IRP is long on measures to encourage energy conservation and efficiency but also includes a few recommendations for much needed infrastructure capital investment for both capacity (Revelstoke Dam upgrade) and transmission (Prince George to Terrace upgrade) purposes. The $7.9 Billion Site C Dam is proposed to move ahead with an expected online date of 2020. In the meantimne, the spot electricity market, the Canadian Entitlement and Burrard Thermal are recommended to used as energy supply gap fillers. 

For the BC renewable energy sector, the most noteworthy draft recommendation is:  

RECOMMENDED ACTION #8: Develop energy procurement options to acquire up to 2,000 gigawatt hours per year from clean energy producers for projects that would come into service in the 2016-2018 time period.

The prospect of new BC power calls is of course welcome news to the sector, but there is caution: (a) this is a draft IRP only; and (b) the draft IRP notes that any new electricity procurement decisions would made only when there is more certainty of the demand.  Most of the new power is expected from wind, run-of-river and biomass project as these are proven to be the lowest-cost options, but geothermal and ocean technologies may also be considered. The objective in the BC Clean Energy Act that the Province "generate 93% from clean or renewable sources" effectively prohibits new power from natural gas facilities, which is good news from a greenhouse gas emissions standpoint.

Much of the long term electricity load is contingent on the development of the proposed LNG export projects on BC's Northwest coast. If the LNG export facilities are built, the demand for electricity in the Province could exceed 25% of the existing BC Hydro load (based on an estimated 4 LNG plants at approximate use of 4,000 GWh/year each. For context, the current BC Hydro load is approximately 60,000 GWh/year). Decisions on the LNG export projects are still under consideration by the proponents, with some decisions expected before the end of the year.  

With bi-partisan political and First Nations support for the proposed LNG export projects, the British Columbia Government's $20 billion BC LNG Energy Strategy may yet be realized. And if so, be certain that it will be all hands on deck in British Columbia for the next few years to support this significant new energy intesive economic opportunity.

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Clean Power Call Yields Two Additional Project EPA's

BC Hydro announced today that it will award electricity purchase agreements to two additional projects under its Clean Power Call.  Here is the press release.  Two hydro projects are still under consideration (Box Canyon and Castle Mountain).

These projects are:

Long Lake Joint Venture (a JV between Regional Power Inc. and Summit Power Group) - a 31 MW storage hydro project in Stewart, BC. Here is the Terrace Standard's story on the project.

Pacific Greengen Power - a 45 MW run-of-river hydro project in Harrison Hot Springs, BC

These projects bring the total amount of electricity awarded under the Clean Power Call to 3,188 GWh/year of firm energy, considerably less than the 5,000 GWh/year BC Hydro had requested from developers under the 2008 Clean Power Call. 

Remember, the amount of electricity awarded to date is pre-attrition and BC Hydro is using a 30 percent attrition factor for the Clean Power Call. Under past calls for power, BC Hydro has seen attrition rates anywhere from 0 to 100%. So it remains to be seen which projects and how many ultimately will be built.

Out of general interest, here is a map of the current electricity supply to BC Hydro from independent power projects (as of April 1, 2010). The map does not include the projects awarded EPA's under the Clean Power Call.

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 Hydro Makes Additional Awards Under Clean Power Call

Today, BC Hydro added an additional 451 GWh/year of firm energy from four new renewable energy projects awarded EPA's under BC Hydro's Clean Power Call. Here is the press release.

The selected projects are:

These projects bring the amount of energy awarded under the Clean Power Call to 2,901 GWh/year.

BC Hydro advises that 8 projects remain under consideration.  Of note, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources hinted at upcoming future power calls in his statement in the BC Hydro press release.

Prices under the electricity purchase agreements have not been disclosed. However, a range of prices will be made available in BC Hydro's filings with the British Columbia Utilities Commission under Section 71 of the Utilities Commission Act.

Congratulations to all of the successful companies.

BC Hydro Selects 19 Projects in First Stage of Clean Power Call

470 days after it received proposals from 43 proponents for 68 clean energy projects, BC Hydro announced today the results of its 2008 Clean Power Call.

In the first stage of awards, BC Hydro selected 19 projects for electricity purchase agreements (EPA's) comprising 2,450 GWh/year being less than half of the 5,000 GWh/year acquisition target it had requested from developers in the 2008 Clean Power Call. Length of the contracts and financial terms were not disclosed.

Of the 19 projects selected for EPA today, run-of-river and wind projects almost evenly split the generation capacity awarded. This is noteworthy because currently in BC there is only one operating wind park, while there are over 35 run-of-river projects generating to the BC grid. Perhaps BC Hydro may be seeking more wind energy as quality run-of-river projects become more difficult to find.

Here are more details from today's announcement:

14 hydro-electric (run-of-river) projects were selected and will provide BC Hydro with 1,203 GWh of firm electricity per year.  The successful run-of-river developers, projects and respective project capacity are as follows:  

Five wind energy projects were selected and will provide BC Hydro with 1,247 GWh of firm electricity per year.  The successful wind developers, projects and respective project capacity are as follows:
Congratulations to all the developers, whose patience has finally been rewarded.
 
The bulk of the work has only now begun. Immediate next steps for the above developers are hearings before the British Columbia Utilities Commission pursuant to Section 71 of the Utlities Commission Act and raising capital to help finance construction of these projects.
 
Those developers with projects still remaining in the Clean Power Call who were not awarded EPA's today (there are 28) will take comfort in BC Hydro's statement that it expects to select additional projects for EPA awards in late March.
 
Given that only half of the expected capacity of the Clean Power Call has been filled by today's 19 EPA awards, there is certainly more to come on this good news story for the BC renewable energy sector.
 
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Breaking News: Clean Power Call Awards

Just announced by BC Hydro, 19 projects have been selected for an award of an electricity purchase agreement under BC Hydro's Clean Power Call.

More to come.

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.

BCUC Approves BC Hydro's $825M Purchase of 1/3 of Waneta Dam

Following up on an earlier blog post, today, the British Columbia Utilities Commission approved BC Hydro's request to purchase a 1/3 interest of the Waneta Dam from Teck Metals Ltd., calling it "in the public interest". See the attached order from the BCUC.

The BCUC also determined that BC Hydro's consultations with First Nations with respect to the Waneta Transaction were adequate and upheld the honour of the Crown. The BCUC's reasons for the decision will be released at a later date.

When the transaction closes, the Waneta Dam, located in Trail, BC, will provide BC Hydro with access to 167MW of firm capacity and 890 GWh/year of energy. Adding the interest in the Waneta Dam will also help the Province meet its electricity self-sufficiency objectives.

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Vancouver's Green Olympics

With the 2010 Winter Olympic Games set to leap out of the starting gate on February 12, we thought it would appropriate to highlight some of the initiatives that are helping make the 2010 Vancouver Games the "greenest" and most sustainable Olympic games ever.

As the Globe and Mail reported last week, in Whistler, BC, the sight of the alpine skiing and sliding events for the 2010 Winter Olympics, Innergex Renewable Energy Inc., is days away generating electricity from its $33 million 7.9 megawatt small-scale hydroelectric facility on Fitzsimmons Creek. Innergex signed a 40 year electricity purchase agreement with BC Hydro and the Fitzsimmons Creek Hydro Electric Project will generate an estimated 33,000 MWh annually of green electrons, enough to supply the two ski resorts at Whistler and Blackcomb.
 
BC Hydro, which produces 80% of the Province's electricity from major hydro-electric generating stations located on the Columbia and Peace Rivers, and BCTC will be providing most of the electricity for the Olympic venues, but some venues will have IOC mandated diesel power generators as added redundancy for broadcasting and scorekeeping purposes. As the Vancouver Sun reported, this has been no small task, especially with respect to the International Broadcast Centre.
 
Other notable "green" initiatives involving the 2010 Olympic Games include:
 
To help offset an individual's carbon footprint while attending the Games, official Olympic supplier Offsetters is offering an official Olympic pin in return for your purchase of one tonne of carbon offsets ($25). Offsetter's has set up a booth at the Vancouver International Airport where the carbon offsets may be purchased.
 
As we previously blogged about, Canada Hockey Place and the other skating venues will feature electric ice-resurfacer's (zamboni's), which will no doubt be very busy during the Games.
 
The City of Vancouver recently revealed North America's first neighbourhood energy centre which uses sewage to create enough heat and hot water for the Olympic Village site and thousands of residences and businesses in the southeast False Creek area of Vancouver. The $30 million facility will use heat recovered from untreated waste water to heat the neighbourhood in lieu of traditional gas or electric heat. Here is the Vancouver Sun's recent article profiling the facility.
 
The Resort Municipality of Whistler recently upgraded its waste water treatment plant which will be used to heat and cool the athlete's village in Whistler.
 
Even Olympic sponsor Coca-Cola will use the Games to demonstrate new non-hydro fluorocarbon using vending machines at 1,400 locations.
 
Vancouver's own Pulse Energy, an energy management software company, has set up a fascinating website that provides real-time energy consumption at selected Olympic venues.
 
Finally, while not an Olympic venue, but certainly a landmark nobody will miss overlooking the City of Vancouver, Grouse Mountain's 1.5 MW wind turbine is expected to operational in time for the start of the Games. Be sure to check out the turbine's unique viewing deck located 57m above the ground.
 
The 2010 Games are turning out to be an excellent showcase for BC's low-carbon business innovation and the Province's natural endowment of green energy resources. Kudos to those who have made this possible.
 
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February 3, 2010 Update. The David Suzuki Foundation awarded the Vancouver Olympics with bronze medal in a "climate scorecard".  As the Vancouver Sun reported today, the Vancouver-based foundation gave the Olympic organizers credit for innovative and energy-efficient venues, and for mainly using clean hydroelectric energy but also alternatives such as waste heat from refrigeration systems, landfill methane, and ground-source heat pumps.
 
February 10 Update: Here is VANOC's press release on its sustainability report.

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.
 
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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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Clean Power Call, Port Electrification and Ontario's First Nations Green Energy Funding

Clean Power Call Update
 
On August 24, BC Hydro provided an update to its Clean Power Call. According to the update, BC Hydro will now call on the proponents to assess the status of their consultations with First Nations to date, effectively delaying the EPA awards under the Clean Power Call. The decision to review First Nations consultation stems from the two decisions made by the BC Court of Appeal last February in the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council v. B.C. (Utilities Commission) and Kwikwetlem First Nation v. British Columbia (Utilities Commission). Additional information on this new requirement will be posted on BC Hydro's Clean Power Call website as it becomes available. Also in the update, BC Hydro "anticipates that any EPA awards will occur in the Fall of 2009", which is a welcomed hint of certainty to the renewable energy industry and the billions of investment dollars waiting for the results of the Clean Power Call.
 
Port of Vancouver Goes Electric
 
It was announced this week that the Port of Vancouver is now able to provide direct electricity hook-ups to cruise ships, making it only one of three ports in the world (Juneau and Seattle) with such capability. Now when a cruise ship docks in the Port of Vancouver, instead of running the diesel engines for power, it be able to plug into the BC electricity grid, which is supplied for the most part by renewable energy. This is great news in the battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (it will reduce GHG emissions by 39,000 tons annually) and certainly a boost to the renewable energy industry in the Province. It is also another step towards making Vancouver one of the world's greenest cities. Kudos to the partnership between the federal and provincial governments, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, BC Hydro and the Port of Vancouver.
 
Ontario's New First Nations and Renewable Energy Programs
 
The Ontario Government announced today that is launching two new programs for First Nations and Metis communities interested in developing and owning renewable energy facilities, such as wind, solar and hydroelectric projects. Under the $250 million Aboriginal Loan Guarantee Program, Aboriginal communities will be eligible for loan guarantees from the Ontario Government to assist with equity participation in renewable energy generation and transmission projects. The Aboriginal Energy Partnerships Program is designed to build capacity and participation by providing funds for community energy plans, feasibility studies, technical research and developing business cases and create an "Aboriginal Renewable Energy Network". Ontario is showing tremendous leadership in the area of green energy these days, and these two new Aboriginal programs will certainly be welcomed by the renewable energy industry as a means to facilitate more Aboriginal participation in green energy projects, which is a good thing.

 

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.

BC Wind Power, Waneta Dam Hearings, Haida and NaiKun and Biomass EPA's Approved

Wind Turbines Are Spinning in BC (finally!)
 
British Columbia's first wind energy facility opened earlier this month in Dawson Creek. The Bear Mountain Wind Park, which is owned by AltaGas, when completed will consist of 34 turbines and generate enough electricity to power 38,000, homes. The project has an EPA with BC Hydro under the 2006 Power Call and will receive up to $20.5 million from the the Government of Canada's ecoENERGY For Renewables Program. This marks a significant milestone on the Canadian renewable energy landscape. Now each of Canada's 10 Provinces can claim to be generating electrons to their respective electricity grids from the power of the wind. A monumental moment indeed. Those in British Columbia can purchase electricity from the Bear Mountain Wind Park, through Bullfrog Power.
 
BC Hydro's Purchase of 1/3 of Waneta Dam before BC Utilities Commission
 
This week marks the start of the public hearing stage for BC Hydro's proposed purchase of a 1/3 interest in Teck Metals Ltd.'s Waneta Dam in Trail, BC . BC Hydro is seeking an order from the BCUC under s. 44.2(1) of the BC Utilities Commission Act that the proposed for $825 million purchase is in the public interest. In its submission to the BCUC, BC Hydro characterizes the Waneta Dam as a significant hydro electric generating facility that has produced safe, reliable power for Teck for over 50 years. If the purchase completes, BC Hydro believes it would gain access to 167MW of capacity and 890 GWh/year of energy. This is an interesting proposal for BC Hydro.  In BC there are only a handful of privately owned dams, and rarely, if ever, are these dams available for purchase. So, BC Hydro buying an existing asset which can supply base load power to the grid and storage capacity, seems to follow quite well with the Province's energy self-sufficiency objectives. The hearing process which will take place over the course of the fall, will examine, among many other things, the cost to acquire the interest in the dam and aboriginal consultation and/or accommodation. This will be very interesting to follow.  Here is the link to the BCUC's webpage on the BC Hydro Waneta Transaction.
 
NaiKun and the Haida Nation sign Investment MOU
 
Last week, NaiKun Wind Energy and the Haida Nation signed a memorandum of understanding which could give the Haida nation a 30% ownership stake in NaiKun's proposed $2 billion wind power project off the coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands. NaiKun currently has a proposal into BC Hydro as part of the Clean Power Call. Kudos to NaiKun and the Haida Nation who continue to show tremendous leadership on the business relationship between first nations and independent power producers. Here's the Vancouver Sun's story on the deal.
 
EPA's for Four Bioenergy Projects Accepted By BCUC
 
Following up on my earlier blog posts (here and here) on Phase I of BC Hydro's Bioenergy Call for Power, electricity purchase agreements between BC Hydro and the four successful projects have now been accepted by the BCUC. They are: Canfor Pulp Ltd. Partnership's project in Prince George, PG Interior Waste to Energy Ltd.'s project also in Prince George, Domtar Pulp and Paper Products Inc.'s project in Kamloops, and Zellstoff Celgar Ltd. Partnership's project in Castlegar. Together, the four projects will generate a total of 579 GWh/year of electricity, or enough to power more than 52,000 homes. Here is BC Hydro's press release. Biomass energy is certainly a welcome boon to BC's forest industry. Great to see BC Hydro buying more of it. Here is the latest information on the Phase II of the Bioenergy Call.
 
You can follow me and Megawatt on Twitter.

Green vs Black - The Canadian Hydro vs TransAlta Face-Off

There is an interesting battle playing out in the Canadian energy marketplace and it doesn't involving the oil patch. This time, it's big coal TransAlta seeking to buy Canadian renewable energy pioneer Canadian Hydro Developers for $4.55 per share. 

Canadian Hydro, founded by renewable energy pioneers, John and Ross Keating is a true leader in its field, operating wind, hydroelectric and biomass projects in BC, Alberta and Quebec. In June, it added the 198MW Wolfe Island wind farm to bring its operating total to 694 megawatts with another 252 megawatts in late-stage development.  Canadian Hydro Developers truly is a great Canadian renewable energy success story.

TransAlta is a giant power generator, which operates over 50 power plants (over 8000 MW) mainly from coal but with some wind energy (248MW).

TransAlta's hostile takeover notice came in last Monday. By Thursday, Canadian Hydro's CEO, Kent Brown and the board of directors asked that shareholders reject TransAlta's hostile bid, calling it "inadequate" and TransAlta's timing "purely opportunistic."  On Friday, Mr. Brown appeared on the Business News Network and made a compelling case for shareholders to reject TransAlta offer. Here is the 8 minute video link. 

On August 6, 2009, Canadian Hydro's board of directors issued a directors circular to all shareholders regarding TransAlta's offer. Here is the August 6 press release.

Those in the renewable energy industry are watching this story very closely. Could this the first move by coal and oil & gas in an attempt to take over the renewable energy sector and control the growth of clean and green energy in Canada? I see this hostile bid as TransAlta's way to green itself, to buy clean energy assets in order to offset CO2 emissions ultimately acting as a hedge against upcoming cap-and-trade laws. An interesting plan for sure. Perhaps it is thought to be cheaper to buy the green assets now, rather than purchasing the carbon offsets later? If that is true, then it is possible that Canadian Hydro is undervalued today.

There are so many questions, that only time will be able to answer. At least for now, the decision rests in the hands of the Canadian Hydro shareholders to do nothing or tender their shares.

You can now follow Megawatt and me on Twitter.

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

Integrating Variable Electricity Generation into the Grid

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the international regulatory authority for electric reliability of the bulk power system in North America, yesterday released a special report entitled "Accommodating High Levels of Variable Generation", which calls for changes to the way the North American bulk power system is planned and operated.  For a quick read, here is a copy of the executive summary

The NERC special report was drafted by a committee of some 50 industry experts, including grid operators, utilities, wind and solar manufacturers, trade associations and government authorities across North America. Some of the report’s specific recommendations include:

  • Planning practices and methods require change — The integration of high levels of variable generation will require system planners to change planning practices, procedures, methods, and tools to ensure reliability in the coming years. Incorporating resources located at the distribution-level (such as roof-top solar panels and “smart grid” technologies) into bulk power system planning studies is a key area in need of improvement, along with integrated analysis of transmission and resources in probabilistic planning studies.
  • Grid operators require new tools and practices — Ensuring the efficient, effective, and reliable use of variable resources will require a number of changes in system operations centers, including incorporating consistent and accurate forecasting of daily and seasonal variable generation output and advanced control techniques into daily and real-time practices. A comprehensive regional analysis of the operational impacts of proposed system changes (i.e., larger balancing areas or participation in wider-area balancing management) is also recommended.
  • Industry encouraged to pursue research and development and establish appropriate market signals — A renewed focus on research and development for new system models, continued improvement of variable generation technologies, and advanced planning techniques is needed. The report also recommends that organized markets consider instituting mechanisms designed to ensure the availability of adequate flexible balancing resources. Appropriate requirements for generation ramping requirements, minimum generation levels, and shorter operations scheduling intervals should also be considered.
  • Policy makers encouraged to remove barriers to transmission development and consider reliability — The report encourages policy makers to accelerate transmission siting, approve permits for needed facilities, and otherwise remove barriers to needed transmission development. It also encourages policy makers to consider the opportunities and issues associated with proposed system changes, the importance of coordinated planning, and the impacts of variable generation on wide-area system reliability.

In the context of the BCUC's Section 5 Inquiry on BC's long term electricity transmission requirements, this report comes at a most appropriate time.  There is no doubt that intermittent, or variable, electricity poses a challenge connecting to BC's heritage electricity grid, so it is critical that these issues are considered, at a precisely the time when more and more electrons from renewable power, like wind and solar, are seeking access to the grid.  

The BC Energy Plan: Report on Progress

Last week, the BC Government released a report on progress of its 2007 BC Energy Plan.  The report shows just how far the Province has come in a little over 2 years since the introduction of the BC Energy Plan and demonstrates the Province's environmental leadership and many initiatives in the clean energy sector.

Some of the renewable energy specific highlights in the report include:

The Province should be properly recognized for doing many of the right things to encourage the development of a green economy on many different fronts throughout British Columbia. While there is much work still to be done, the foundation has been laid and businesses have stepped up and invested millions of dollars, and created thousands of jobs as a result of the Energy Plan. So, yes, a green focused economy works very well for British Columbia.

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.

Facts on Independent Power Production in British Columbia

Yesterday, the British Columbia Government, Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, issued a press release entitled "Facts on Independent Power Production" (click to download a copy), to correct misleading claims about electricity generation in the Province. It's a must read for anyone who is interested in green energy in British Columbia.  

The comprehensive press release deals with many of the falsehoods being spread by opponents to independent power producers and specifically addresses, with facts, the following topics: 

  • What it means to BC to be "electricity self-sufficient"
  • BC Hydro's on-going role in the BC Energy Plan
  • Costs to ratepayers for long-term IPP energy purchase contracts
  • The non-privatization of BC Hydro
  • Local input and environmental review of IPP projects
  • BC rivers remaining in the public's control
  • The possible future export of power by IPP's
  • The export/import debate
  • The number of current water power applications and what these mean
  • The total number of IPP's operating in BC and the investment they have brought
  • First Nations support of IPP projects

This release is very good timing given the current political climate and the unfourtunate, mostly politically motivated, backlash against the IPP industry. Hopefully, the facts will help educate the public about IPP's and we can then move to a proper dialogue on how we as a Province can use our incredible natural endowment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and reverse the damaging effects of climate change.  To do anything short of that would be a disgrace.

Welcome to British Columbia, Bullfrog Power!

Today, British Columbia is a whole lot greener thanks to Bullfrog Power announcing that it has entered the BC electricity marketplace to sell power from wind and low-impact water power generators who meet or exceed the federal government's EcoLogo standard for renewable electricity.  Having enjoyed years of success in Ontario and Alberta, Bullfrog Power is now offering residents and businesses of British Columbia a new way to take a stand in support of low-impact renewable electricity and reduce their environmental impact. 

Bullfrog Power was founded in 2005 as a way for consumers to purchase electricity from clean and renewable sources. To date, Bullfrog has over 8,000 residential and 900 business customers in Ontario and Alberta, providing demand for five new wind generation projects in Canada.  Businesses in British Columbia that are already "Bullfrogpowered" include Walmart Canada, TD Bank Financial, BMO Financial Group, The Pembina Institute, The David Suzuki Foundation.

This sounds great, but how does this work? No special wiring is needed. Customer draws power from the BC grid as it always has and Bullfrog Power injects as much green power onto the grid as customer takes off.  The green power comes from an EcoLogo certified low-impact renewable generation facility.  For each megawatt of power generated by such a facility and is injected onto the grid, a corresponding Green Power Certificate is created to represent the positive environmental benefits associated with producing green power. Bullfrog Power then retires the associated Green Power Certificates, issued on your behalf. This entitles you to claim that you are using green electricity and that your environmental footprint has been reduced accordingly.

Deloitte conducts an annual audit to confirm, among other things, that as many Green Power Certificates have been retired on behalf of Bullfrog Power’s customers as Bullfrog Power has sold. The audit also ensures that these Green Power Certificates cannot be resold or double counted. Bullfrog will bill you monthly, in addition to your regular electricity provider, such as BC Hydro. 

Here is a link to some frequently asked questions about Bullfrog Power in British Columbia as provided on its website.

I like this company and I like the idea that the customer is in control of its electricity choices. Congratulations Bullfrog Power and welcome to British Columbia! I have no doubt that you will be welcomed by all those who support low-impact renewable power.

The Brookfield Plan - An Independent Electricity Procurement Entity

As part of the BCUC's hearing on BC Hydro's 2008 LTAP, Brookfield Renewable Power Inc. submitted a Letter of Comment to the BCUC regarding British Columbia's current electricity procurement process. The commentary is drafted in the context of the Clean Power Call and ultimately calls for an independent electricity procurment entity.  For any proponent of renewable energy in the Province, the letter is definitely worth a read.

Brookfield has vast experience in developing renewable projects in North and South America so it speaks from a position of authority when it criticizes the apparent conflict of interest which exists in British Columbia with BC Hydro acting as buyer, developer and producer of energy and capacity.

The letter specifically identifies four areas of conflict of interest in the Clean Power Call's RFP document which could help shape BC Hydro's development efforts and make BC Hydro's project's appear better. These four areas are:

  1. Knowledge of IPP pricing in context of possible Site C development;
  2. Length of bid process resulting in higher bid prices;
  3. Non-standard risks: non-firm energy pricing and shortfall liquidated damages; and
  4. Subjective evaluation of proposals.

I believe that it is extremely beneficial to the Province's power industry when the experiences in other jurisdictions are brought to the attention of Government, BC Hydro, the BCUC and the public at large. So I commend Brookfield for filing the Letter of Comment with the BCUC. What will come of it, who knows? But it is better than not to have at least considered the issues.

March 20 Update: Here is a link to today's story in the Vancouver Sun on the Brookfield Plan, which includes some comments from Government.

March 24 Update: The Vancouver Sun's Energy Hotlines Blog, written by its energy reporter, Scott Simpson, has provided some further update on the March 20 news story. Here is the link to the blog post.

BC's February 2009 Throne Speech - The Green Energy Agenda

For our report on the August 26, 2009 Throne Speech (A Major Boost to Green Energy), click here.

The BC Government today delivered its Throne Speech, outlining its political agenda for the upcoming year, and you can't help but notice that an election is coming on May 12, 2009. 

It was no surprise, but energy was among the major topics addressed on in the speech calling it "another core competitive advantage for British Columbia".  The Government sees a green energy economy as a catalyst to creating rural jobs, reducing greenhouse gases and transforming forestry in the Province.  Apparently, green energy is central to the future economic success of our Province. Can't really disagree with that.

Below are some of the more interesting energy related quotes (see pages 21-27 of the Throne Speech): 

  • "Our government will build on its Clean Energy Plan with new direction to BC Hydro and to the British Columbia Utilities Commission."
  • "Independent power production will continue to create new jobs in rural communities."
  • "We will open up new opportunities for private investment to create jobs and meet our needs."
  • "We can become global leaders in wind, run-of river, tidal, geothermal, wave, solar and other forms of clean, renewable power and leading-edge transmission technologies."
  • "An integrated, expanded transmission plan that encourages small scale power projects, economic opportunity and jobs throughout B.C. will be set by year end."
  • "Energy opportunities will transform the future of forestry in British Columbia with clean, carbon-neutral bioenergy, fueled by biomass from beetle-killed forests."
  • "Our government will pursue a major expansion in transmission capacity that will create thousands of new construction jobs and reduce energy loss through transmission."
  • "The goal of a Northeast Transmission Line will be pursued."
  • "More work will be done this year to advance the dialogue on Site C to decide its merit."

It only gets more interesting from here. Tomorrow is budget day.

 

 

 

 

 

Generating Green Power and Jobs in BC: A video look at independent power production in British Columbia

For anyone who is curious about what the green power industry is doing in British Columbia, you need go no further.  Today, the Independent Power Producers Association of British Columbia (IPPBC) released a new video, entitled "Generating Green Power and Jobs in BC" which provides a unique look at the independent power production industry in BC. 

“The video contains ‘on location’ footage of run-of-river hydro, wind power, biomass, geothermal, and energy-recovery-generation projects around the province. It includes comments from ‘green collar’ IPP workers, mayors, First Nations project participants, energy expert Dr. Mark Jaccard and IPPBC Directors.” said Steve Davis, IPPBC President. 

You can view the very slick 10 minute IPPBC video by clicking here

I would guess that most people have never seen a biomass facility or run-of-river power plant, or even understood the complex process of making green energy, so I must commend IPPBC for undertaking the important but necessary task of educating the general public on the work of the IPP industry. 

In addition, for more information about independent power production in the Province, IPPBC has also prepared some excellent fact sheets on the following green energy topics (which we have included for your downloading pleasure):

Update: Clean Power Call - List of Proposals

Today, BC Hydro released the list of proposals it received to its Clean Power Call RFP.

BC Hydro reports that it received 68 proposals from 43 registered proponents.  A total of 71 entities had previously registered as proponents with BC Hydro in August. In aggregate the 68 proposals represent a total firm energy output of approximately 17,000 GWh/year from 45 hydro projects, 19 wind projects, 2 waste heat projects, 1 biogas project, and 1 biomass project. 

This marks the end of the beginning for many proponents as the long road to actually supplying this new electricity to the grid will take years to come to fruition. Kudos to the BC renewable energy industry for bidding into a very difficult call, in extraordinarily challenging financial markets. Now the hard work begins with EPA's to be negotiated and BCUC to be convinced of the merits of the call.

Power Overload - BC Hydro's Clean Power Call Oversubscribed

Earlier this week, independent power producers in British Columbia responded overwhelmingly to BC Hydro's Clean Power Call, with over 17,000 total gigawatt hours being proposed in the RFP. BC Hydro intends to accept only 5,000 gigawatt hours (or enough electricity to power 500,000 homes). 

As the Vancouver Sun reported, independent power projects proposed to BC Hydro in the response to the Call include the expected run-of-river and wind, but also waste heat, biogas and biomass power projects, demonstrating the range of power sources available in the Province.

It is great to see independent power producers in the Province step up in significant numbers to provide British Columbians with a variety of clean, green and sustainable power options for their electricity. With the Call being oversubscribed, electricity consumers can be assured of competitive prices for new power as the Province moves towards self-sufficiency by 2016.

BC Hydro's timeline puts final evaluation and electricity purchase agreements awarded in mid-April to June 2009.