B.C.'s 'electrification plan' to cost $260M over 5 years; 'scale of climate crisis is enormous,' premier says
Details of a pricey plan to "electrify" the province were outlined in an announcement from B.C.'s premier and energy minister Tuesday.
John Horgan and Bruce Ralston hosted a news conference in Vancouver, during which they discussed the five-year plan with a $260-million price tag.
According to the province, BC Hydro will use that cash to transition away from fossil fuels including gasoline, diesel and natural gas, through what they called "the power of water."
If all goes according to plan, Horgan said, BC Hydro's program will see a reduction of 900,000 tonnes per year of greenhouse gas emissions.
"That will take about 200,000 cars off the road," he said.
Echoing the premier's description of the plan as "ambitious," Ralston said the goals include reducing the number of vehicles on the road, as well as the number of homes relying on fossil fuel.
The province pledged to more than triple the number of fast-charging stations for electric vehicles by 2025, Ralston said. Homeowners will have access to new incentives, he said, which could amount to $3,000 in savings, depending on the upgrades they make.
There will also be incentives and programs geared toward businesses based in B.C.
"The scale of the climate crisis is enormous, and that requires more activity by government," Premier Horgan said.
"We need to make sure we are less reliant on fossil fuels. We need to make sure that we can shift away from a fossil fuel economy to a cleaner, greener economy powered by the water, powered by BC Hydro's clean electricity."
BC Hydro is a Crown corporation owned by the province of British Columbia.
Horgan said 98 per cent of B.C.'s electricity is generated by "clean, renewable resources," and that the province is North America's "most aggressive" clean power producer.
Still, he said, three-quarters of the energy used in B.C. – from cars to heating – still depends on fossil fuels.
QUESTIONS ABOUT CONTROVERSIAL LNG
Is it hypocritical of the province to push for cleaner energy sources while backing the controversial Site C project, which has ties to the liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector?
The dam in the Peace River area of northeastern B.C. will, according to BC Hydro, be a source of clean energy, but LNG Canada will be among the utility's largest customers when the project is complete – around the same time the electrification plan will wrap up.
Among the questions asked to the premier on Tuesday was whether this announcement made the premier look back on decisions he's made.
"As I've said from the beginning, Site C is not a project that our government would have started, but it was one that was well underway when we arrived," he said, referencing the former Liberal government.
But he used the question as an opportunity to again push the message of a "need to electrify," rather than to address the controversies surrounding the project.
"We are doing our best to contain costs, we're doing our best to ensure that the project can be completed on time, to provide clean energy not just for British Columbians but for the entire northwestern United States as well as other provinces in Canada."
He said he's confident Site C will help feed the surplus demand, and that, if things continue at the current pace, sources like the project will be needed.