Proposed New BCUC Rules for Electricity Supply Contracts

Today, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) released proposed new Rules for Electricity Energy Supply Contracts, which will affect all future electricity supply contracts (or electricity purchase agreements) to a public utility in British Columbia, unless otherwise exempted by law, regulation or order.

These new Rules will update the 1993 Rules on account of changes to the BC Utilities Commission Act and the Clean Energy Act.

The BCUC is seeking public comments on the new Rules, up to August 26, 2011.

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.

Offsetters: Your Official Carbon Offset Provider for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games

In a previous post, I discussed the concept of carbon offsets and looked at the Pacific Carbon Trust in particular. The Trust is a new B.C. crown corporation that provides carbon emission offsets to businesses and government ministries. This week, the Megawatt spotlight is on Offsetters Clean Technology Inc. Offsetters is a B.C. based company and one of Canada’s leading offset providers. Notably, Offsetters was recently named the Official Carbon Offset Provider of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Offsetters was founded in 2005 by two professors at the University of British Columbia. The company has created numerous carbon offset projects to date, many of which increased the energy efficiency of existing businesses and encouraged the introduction of more efficient energy systems. For example, one offset project was based on the use of a new biomass boiler to heat greenhouses, while another project involved the purchase of a ground-source heat pump system for an extended care facility. Offsetters states that these projects would not have been possible without funds from carbon offset purchasers.

One reason Offsetters focuses on energy efficiency projects, rather than forestry based carbon offsets, is that it claims the carbon reductions from energy efficiency undertakings are more easily verifiable. In particular, a representative from the company suggested that carbon offsets based on tree planting may be less successful because when the trees eventually decompose, they release stored carbon back into the atmosphere. Offsetters insures that all carbon emission reductions from its projects are independently verified by a qualified engineering firm.

In addition to the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee, Offsetters has already assembled an impressive list of clients. These include Vancity Capital, Bunting Coady Architects and Avison Young Real Estate Solutions, to name just a few. Offsetters also partners with West Jet and Air France to provide free carbon offsets to airline passengers. Patrons of either company may elect to have the carbon emissions from their flight offset by the airline at no cost to themselves.

Megawatt will keep you posted on new developments in the world of carbon offsets and other climate change solutions.

Free Money: Canada's Clean Energy Fund Program

So you would like some free money for your clean energy project demonstration? The Government of Canada through its recently announced Clean Energy Fund Program is now offering $850 million over five years for the demonstration of promising technologies, including large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects, and renewable energy and clean energy systems demonstration. An additional $150 million over 5 years is available for clean energy research and development.
You can read more about the Clean Energy Fund Program here and here, and the Request for Proposals (RFP) for funding.
For renewable and clean energy project demonstrations, $200 million of free Canadian dollars is available to those who meet certain eligibility criteria and have full project proposals submitted no later than end of business on September 14, 2009.  Note that the first step is to file with the federal government an "Intent to Submit Project Proposal".
Technologies eligible for funding include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Smart Grids
  • Plug-in Hybrid electric charging infrastructure
  • efficient systems which facilitate intermittent renewable power and heat
  • utility scale storage systems
  • heat pump with natural refrigerants and supply of renewable energy
  • efficient hybrid systems combining renewable or waste energy with limited fossil fuel input for remote communities
  • geothermal or waste heat sources upgraded for power and and heat for communities
  • wind energy technologies that address Canadian challenges (ie cold climate, remote communities, offshore application and grid integration)
  • marine energy
  • low head hydro
  • solar thermal and PV systems

The good news is that the Government of Canada has again recognized the importance of renewables and the need to meet the diverse demands of the country. The bad news is that there is a lot more money being diverted to cleaning up the pollution, rather than replacing the pollutters altogether.

BC Liberals Win, BC Carbon Tax Stays, Ontario is Legally Green and 7 Amazing Facts about Renewable Energy

This week's musings in renewable energy in British Columbia and beyond...
1. BC Re-elects Liberal Government - the government that ignited the renewable energy revolution in the province was re-elected with a new four-year mandate on Tuesday. This is good news for BC's independent power producers and renewable energy industry generally in the province, who faced much uncertainty during the election campaign with an opposition party platform which included a moratorium on new independent power production. One local developer is particularly happy. Crisis averted, now it's game-on for renewables in BC. Next up - the BCUC's decision on BC Hydro's 2008 LTAP, which is expected in June.
2. BC's Carbon Tax Survives - in a related story, the re-election of the BC Liberal government allows the controversial (and politically risky) carbon tax to survive to tax another day, much to the relief of the Premier (it was his baby) and environmental groups which see the result as a positive step in the fight against climate change. Now there may be hope that similar GHG reducing initiatives by regional governments are politically possible, perhaps even beneficial to a political party. The local story even caught the attention of the NY Times Green Inc. blog. Now if we really want to get down to business, let's use some of that carbon tax money to help further development of renewable energy.
3. US Windpower Industry Seeks Government Push - coming out of the massive AWEA conference in Chicago last week, is the story that the US wind energy industry is pressing for federal legislation in the US that would mandate that creation of a national renewable energy standard of 25 percent of the country's electricity be generated from renewable sources by 2025, up from around 7 percent now (with wind making up 1.5 percent). Similarly, CanWEA believes wind energy can satisfy 20% of Canada's electricity demand by 2025. I follow the US renewable energy industry with great interest as the Americans are taking a clear leadership role in advocating the benefits of renewables in the new green economy. Bottom line - if it's a no go south of the border, you can almost be sure it's not happening here.
4. Ontario Passes its Green Energy Act and Torontonians to Pay Premium Rates for Peak Power Two stories from yesterday's Globe and Mail. Ontario easily passed the Green Energy Act into law eliciting a boon for renewables. But Canada's first true green energy legislation is not without its controversy as the province tries to find its way around the nuclear energy quandary.
In a related story....

....judging by the online comments to the Globe's news story, the good folks of the City of Toronto are now facing one of the greatest crises of their time - peak time electricity pricing! In an effort to shift energy use in Canada's largest city to off-peak hours and to prevent blackouts, Ontario Hydro will begin charging "smart meter" enabled customers in Toronto (currently only about 10,000), premium rates for peak period usage, and reduced rates for overnight use. Given that the current rates are still relatively inexpensive, the hootenanny should die down fairly quickly. People don't mind spending $4 on a cup of coffee, but charge them $0.02 more per kwh and all heck breaks loose. This is amusing to me.  

5. 7 Amazing Fact about (US) Renewable Energy  Finally, I came across this interesting blog post, courtesy of the Mother Nature Network.

Ocean Energy Industry Forecast Published

Just last week, UK based energy business analysts Douglas-Westwood published a new study entitled "The World Wave & Tidal Market Report 2009-2013".   Media accounts have summarized the forecast as follows:

  • 86 MW of wave and tidal current stream capacity will be installed worldwide in the 2009 to 2013 period
  • with over 200 concept technologies, commercialization of leading technologies in both sectors is only just beginning
  • the industry faces many challenges, including survivability and reliability, cost reduction, attracting private investment, supply chain stimulation, and development of market mechanisms to support deployment and development activities
  • A total of 135 units are forecast for deployment over the next five years. Of these, 74 are commercial-scale units – 55% of the total
  • the UK is leading the way with 60% of the total ocean energy capacity - about 51MW. The reasons for the UK's prominence can be summarized as:
    • excellent physical conditions for ocean energy generation;
    • market mechanisms and funding is in place; and
    • the UK is home to many leading ocean energy companies (this is likely as a result of the first two factors...)

Canada is reported to have capacity of 6MW coming on stream during this period.

This report appears to be a good "state of the industry" report and is therefore a good starting point for further discussions and action on the development of Ocean Energy globally, but in particular in Canada and, with the right programs and leadership, in British Columbia.


Time is ripe for investment in Ocean Energy in British Columbia

I was happy to hear this morning that a joint venture of European companies has received a permit to begin investigating the viability of a wave energy project off the west coast of Vancouver Island, in the Clayoquot area. Looking at the state of the ocean energy sector in British Columbia, I feel that this latest announcement is a positive step, but more is needed.

As the global economy slows, governments are stimulating economic activity by investing in infrastructure projects. In B.C., the time is therefore ripe for the government to support clean, renewable ocean energy (both tidal and wave technologies). With a shoreline that spans somewhere near 27,000 kms (including all islands and inlets) and, according to Mike Tarbotton of Triton Consultants, an estimated 89 potential sights to develop tidal electricity generation plants, B.C. has the potential to be one of the world's most prolific producers of clean and renewable tidal and wave energy.


However, the government of British Columbia has not yet made a significant investment in ocean technologies nor provided the kinds of incentives (i.e. tax credits or reimbursement of development costs) that will allow B.C. to live up to its potential. It is fair enough to say that other technologies such as hydro (and particularly run of the river), natural gas and wind power are more mature industries with lower entry costs, but public procurement, investment in research and development and incentives are critical to spur the development of commercial grade ocean energy technologies and thereby mature this viable method of power generation. The lack of government support and the significant hurdles still facing ocean energy producers in B.C. was recently highlighted by the fact that no ocean energy initiatives has yet to receive funding from the government's $25-million Innovative Clean Energy Fund and that not one ocean energy initiative was put forward in response to B.C. Hydro's Clean Power Call.

B.C. should be following the lead of the U.K., but need only look closer to home for inspiration - the government of Nova Scotia, who has, amongst other things, created a framework to study and demonstrate tidal energy technologies in the Bay of Fundy. The Fundy Institute of Tidal Energy is currently testing three tidal energy technologies in the Bay of Fundy Minas Passage. One of the three projects is being developed by Vancouver's own Clean Current Power Systems. It is not that there are no ocean energy projects underway in B.C., to the contrary, there are three that have garnered publicity lately, namely:

- Clean Current's tidal project at Race Rocks, off the southern tip of Vancouver Island; 

- Finavera Renewables's  5 mw wave energy project off the shores of Ucluelet;

- New Energy Corporation and Canoe Pass Tidal Energy's tidal project between Quadra and Maude Islands; and

- BC Tidal Energy Corporation and Marine Current Turnbines'  tidal project in Discovery Passage, near Campbell River.

Now with the Clayoquot announcement, that makes five (I realize that there may be other projects out there - so if I've neglected to include one, please let me know!).  With this low level of activity already occurring without much government help, I hope that the B.C. government shows leadership on this front and gets our ocean energy sector to work off our shores.

For a more detailed treatment of this topic, an article entitled Ebbing Away by Michael McCarthy in the Vancouver Courier, dated July 11, 2008 is a good start.