Minister Bennett Addresses Opening of Clean Energy BC Conference
British Columbia’s Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett addressed the province’s independent power producers at the opening of Clean Energy BC’s annual conference in Vancouver on October 28, 2013. While confirming that there are currently no plans for a power call in the province, Minister Bennett acknowledged that his ministerial mandate specifically contemplates working with the clean energy sector to ensure that there remain significant opportunities for renewable energy companies to provide power to British Columbia, and made a number of observations, including:
- policymaking continues to occur in a fluid and dynamic economic environment;
- electricity rates will need to rise in order to fund critical infrastructure upgrades being undertaken by BC Hydro;
- the load-resource balance embodied in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to be submitted to Cabinet is predicated on three “ground rule” changes:
- the change in 2012 from planning for “critical water” conditions to “average water” conditions in meeting self-sufficiency requirements mandated by the Clean Energy Act, which reduced BC Hydro’s annual forecast demand for new firm energy by approximately 4,500 GWh per year; and
- the related removal of BC Hydro’s requirement to plan for an additional 3,000 GWh of “insurance” energy; and
- the government’s decision to allow liquefied natural gas (LNG) producers to self-generate, though direct drive or “inside-the-fence” gas-fired electricity generation, to meet compression loads associated with gas liquefaction;
- the provision of power for ancillary, non-compression loads of LNG producers remains a “major” opportunity for the renewable energy industry; and
- the IRP points to several potential sources of future opportunity for renewable energy in British Columbia, including forecasted increases in electricity demand, significant population growth, LNG project development and increased mining activity.
Minister Bennett closed by noting that the IRP is expected to be resubmitted to Cabinet in early November. Confirming earlier press reports, Minister Bennett noted that the final IRP will include a “clean energy strategy” that specifically addresses future prospects for renewable energy in the province, with a focus on balancing the need for a diversity of power sources with the need for competitive electricity pricing that minimizes impacts on ratepayers.
Bill Bennett Clean Energy Act Clean Energy BC clean energy strategy competitive electricity pricing compression load diversity of power sources Integrated Resource Plan IRP liquefied natural gas LNG ratepayer