New B.C. law aims for investment in renewable energy
The B.C. government introduced a new clean energy law Wednesday designed to spark investment in independent power production in the province and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom said the Clean Energy Act encourages development of the province's valuable clean and renewable resources, and will help ensure electricity self-sufficiency by 2016.
Lekstrom said the Clean Energy Act sets 16 energy objectives, including restructuring Crown-owned BC Hydro by consolidating the public utility with the B.C. Transmission Corp.
Prior to 2002, BCTC was part of BC Hydro, but the Liberals turned it into its own entity as part of a former energy plan. The Liberals introduced energy initiatives in 2002, 2006 and 2007.
In last February's throne speech, the Liberals announced their intention to introduce a Clean Energy Act that would encourage producers to develop clean power initiatives, including electric vehicles and bioenergy to create forest jobs.
Earlier this month, they announced plans to go ahead with an environmental assessment on the massive Site C hydro-electric dam in northeastern B.C.
Site C, located near the W.A.C. Bennett and Peace Canyon dams on the Peace River near Fort St. John, has been an on-again, off-again development since the 1970s.
Premier Gordon Campbell said British Columbia's anticipated growing power needs -- an expected 40-per-cent increase by 2020 -- make Site C necessary to ensure the province has clean and abundant supplies of power.
The proposed Site C dam would generate 900 megawatts of hydroelectricity and enough power to light up 460,000 homes for a century.
Site C will also create an 83-kilometre long reservoir and flood about 5,400 hectares.
Area farmers, First Nations and environmental groups say the proposed project will destroy prime agricultural land, and many say much of the power from Site C is destined for export.
Lekstrom has said that B.C. needs to build Site C to ensure it can meet its own future energy needs, but power is also a potentially lucrative export commodity.
Opposition New Democrat energy critic John Horgan said he fears the new energy policy will lead to higher power rates for British Columbians as the government looks for ways to offer subsidies to independent power producers.
"There hasn't been a discussion with the people of B.C. about where we should be going," he said. "There are consequences to new sources of supply and that's going to lead to higher rates."
The Ontario government passed its green energy and green economy act last May, pledging to create 50,000 new jobs and more opportunities for renewable energy.