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BC Clean Energy Act Becomes Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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