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BC introduces Clean Energy Act

A new Clean Energy Act the British Columbia government introduced today emphasizes increasing conservation within the province while producing more energy for export.

The goals in the 36-page act include “to be a net exporter of electricity from clean or renewable resources with the intention of benefiting all British Columbians and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

It also pledges to keep rates in B.C. “among the most competitive” in North America and to reduce the expected new demand for electricity within the province by 66 percent.

The act combines B.C. Hydro and the B.C. Transmission Corp., reversing a decision made by the Liberal government in 2003.

And it makes projects that will create energy for export exempt from approval by the B.C. Utilities Commission. Nor will the BCUC review several major projects, including the Northwest Transmission Line, Site C, and recent BC Hydro calls for power.

UPDATE, 6 p.m.: NDP energy critic John Horgan said the act removes the BCUC's role in protecting consumers from the whims of the corporation and the government. “I think by rejecting the long-term acquisition plan last summer, the commission and the commissioners doing the right thing, signed their death warrant in the eyes of premier [Gordon] Campbell.”

The act will also give independent power producers more ability to take advantage of B.C. Hydro's reservoirs and will have staff at the Crown corporation helping to find markets for their power.

The government has always had the ability to issue directives to the BCUC, said Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources minister Blair Lekstrom. The Clean Energy Act gives the government the ability to set its energy policy priorities, he said.

“We have a resource here that has a tremendous amount of potential, and we're going to utilize it for the benefit of British Columbia ratepayers and taxpayers,” he said.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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