The prospect of new mines, natural gas drilling and the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has the Province of British Columbia on the brink of a period of unprecedented growth in the energy and natural resources sector.
In May, the BC Liberal Party under the leadership of Premier Christy Clark was elected on a platform of jobs and the economy. But what might have been missed in all of the hoopla is the Premier's subtle yet impressive desire to achieve her objectives with the help of the Province's clean and renewable energy sector, as evidenced by her letters to her cabinet ministers.
Shortly after the Premier appointed the new cabinet in June, she sent out distinct mandate letters to each of her ministers which set out her priorities for government and listed specific initiatives for each Ministry.
In reading the mandate letters, it is clear what the Premier had in mind for several of her energy sector Ministers. She sees the renewable energy sector playing an important role in the growth of the Province. And why not. For years, the industry has a proven track record for delivering cost-effective clean electricity in all areas of the Province with support from First Nations. For the British Columbia renewable energy industry and First Nations alike, this is most welcome support from the Premier.
Below are some of the key excerpts from the Premier's ministerial mandate letters:
Natural Gas Development (Minister Coleman)
Ministerial Initiative No. 3 - "Maximize the use of clean power in LNG projects while preserving provincial revenue generation opportunities." Perhaps a nod to electric drive compression for LNG plants.
Energy (Minister Bennett)
Ministerial Initiative No. 8 - "Work with the Clean Energy sector to ensure that there remains significant opportunities for renewable energy companies to provide power to British Columbia." No need to look too far, providing electricity to new mines, natural gas extraction in the northeast and the LNG industry would definitely count as a "significant opportunity" for the clean energy sector.
Environment (Minister Polak)
Ministerial Initiative No. 5 - "Working with the Minister of Natural Gas Development, ensure that LNG operations in British Columbia are the cleanest in the world." Another not so subtle hint at electric drive compression for LNG plants powered by renewable energy.
Aboriginal (Minister Rustad )
Ministerial Initiative No. 3 - "Work with BC First Nations that are impacted by natural gas extraction, pipelines or LNG facilities to ensure they are provided with the ability to participate in this generational opportunity." All renewable energy projects in the Province involve First Nations, so building more wind, small hydro, solar or even geothermal projects, would naturally allow First Nations to participate in the opportunity.
If you connect the dots it is not hard to conclude that clean and renewable (greenhouse gas free) energy, a natural resource of which British Columbia has an abundance, is the means for the various Ministers to meet many of the Premier's objectives.
Now, if planners can stay away from falling victim to short-termism, today's opportunity, like the large hydro-electric dam system and transmission network built decades ago, will provide a lasting legacy for generations to come. I am certain it was not easy back then and it certainly will not be straightforward today. But building the mining and LNG industry while maximizing the Province's renewable energy resources can certainly be accomplished with strong leadership. The Ministers are charged, and as the mandate letters say: "now it's time to deliver."