A legacy of environmental stewardship
BC Hydro consistently has some of the lowest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the North American electricity industry. BC Hydro has also developed a legacy of environmental stewardship by embedding environmental impacts into our decision-making and including GHG emissions performance in our annual service plan targets.
How BC Hydro monitors and controls GHG emissions
Building on our legacy of environmental stewardship, BC Hydro continues to monitor and control its GHG emissions and manage risks to our operations by:
- meeting regulatory requirements resulting from the Province's Clean Energy Act, 2007 Energy Plan, and Climate Action Plans;
- producing low-GHG electricity in an effort to minimize provincial GHG emissions;
- identifying, quantifying, implementing and tracking GHG reduction opportunities to meet Service Plan targets; and
- developing an emissions inventory, reporting and verification system to meet mandatory reporting requirements and internationally accepted protocols.
- GHG reduction targets
- BC Hydro's GHG emissions
- Compliance and regulatory information
- BC Carbon Tax, Net Zero and Cap & Trade
- Becoming carbon neutral
- On the road (Fleet Emissions)
- In our offices (Building Emissions)
- We're Leading by Example
- Adapting to climate change
The provincial government has legislated aggressive GHG reduction targets to reduce emissions by 33 per cent by 2020, and by 80 per cent by 2050. BC Hydro is taking steps to help the Province reach these targets by reducing its emissions and continuing to supply British Columbians with low GHG electricity.
In B.C., the electricity sector accounts for approximately 2 per cent of the total GHG emissions in the province. We recognize our contribution to provincial GHG emissions and are working hard to reduce these emissions as a first priority. By reducing our emissions, BC Hydro supports our customer's efforts to do the same. BC Hydro will also purchase GHG offsets to help meet our regulatory requirements.
Figure 1: British Columbia GHG Emissions by Sector (2008)
In 2010, BC Hydro's GHG emissions were approximately 1.1 million tonnes CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent, the unit used to measure GHG emissions). The GHG intensity — a measurement of how many tonnes of GHGs are emitted for every gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity generated by BC Hydro — was 23 tonnes of CO2e/GWh.
For comparison, our 2010 GHG emissions per unit of net system generation (not including electricity imports) of 23 tonnes CO2e/GWh were significantly lower than the 2009 average of Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) members (290 tonnes CO2e per GWh) and CEA fossil fuel-fired generators (970 tonnes CO2e per GWh).
Building on existing partnerships and programs, such as Power Smart, the Site C Clean Energy Project and Clean Energy Acquisition, will ensure that BC Hydro continues to maintain the low carbon intensity of the electricity supply.
* In any given year, the data in both the GRI Index and the BC Hydro Annual Report will be identical, since they are calculated from the same inventory data. However, when restatements of the inventory are required, for example, due to changes in methodology or improved source data, revisions are only made to the GRI Index, not the historic Annual Reports, since they have already been published. Therefore, those who are interested in accessing historic GHG information should use the information in the GRI Index whenever possible.
BC Hydro is complying with a number of provincial policies, legislative requirements, and regulations. These requirements include:
- GHG measurement and reporting,
- the provincial carbon tax,
- net-zero GHG requirements for thermal generation,
- participation in a regional cap & trade program,
- clean or renewable electricity requirements, and
- carbon neutral requirements for corporate emissions (vehicle fleet, facility heating, cooling and lighting, and paper use).
Like most businesses, BC Hydro uses fossil fuels in our operations and so pays the carbon tax on purchases of these fuels. Higher prices provide an increased incentive for BC Hydro to use less fossil fuels and look for low-GHG alternatives wherever possible. Net Zero requirements outlined in the 2007 BC Energy Plan mean that all GHG emissions from existing thermal generation in B.C. will be required to be offset to zero, starting in 2016, while direction from the Clean Energy Act will see BC Hydro minimize its use of the Burrard Generating Station, which is fuelled by natural gas. BC Hydro is also preparing to participate in the cap and trade program currently under development by the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), targeted to start in 2012.
The B.C. government is playing a leadership role in minimizing emissions by ensuring that public service operations are carbon neutral for 2010 and every year thereafter.
BC Hydro is supporting this goal by:
- accurately measuring our greenhouse gas emissions,
- aggressively reducing emissions from our operations and
- offsetting our remaining emissions from using high-quality and verifiable offsets from the Pacific Carbon Trust.
To help us achieve our goals, we've developed a carbon neutral action plan, which focuses on greening the fleet, increasing energy efficiency in our buildings and empowering our employees to be conservation champions. You can read about our progress in achieving carbon neutrality in our annual Carbon Neutral Action Report [PDF, 2.6 MB].
For a progress report on GHG emissions in B.C.'s public sector, please visit the Province's Live Smart BC webpage.
BC Hydro's vehicle fleet contains approximately 2,400 vehicles that are used on a daily basis throughout BC Hydro's operations. Vehicles are needed for everything from maintaining and repairing power lines to reading meters, from our outreach activities to construction services. They play an important role in the reliable and safe delivery of electricity.
BC Hydro is providing idle-free and driver training programs to employees to encourage reduced vehicle idling time and promote eco-efficient driving techniques. These programs also include additional equipment such as cab-heaters and telematics (electronic monitoring of the vehicle performance data) to support behaviour change. Use of the vehicles is being avoided through the implementation of initiatives such as teleconferencing, carpooling and route optimization.
Fleet efficiency is being improved by the replacement of vehicles with newer, more efficient models and actively right-sizing wherever possible. As new technology becomes available Fleet Services incorporates vehicles into the fleet that will help to reduce fuel consumption while ensuring service reliability. Our fleet now includes more than 130 hybrid vehicles, including two heavy duty aerial line trucks.
Two Mitsubishi iMiEV cars, North America's first production-ready highway-capable electric cars, were introduced to the fleet in November 2009. BC Hydro has also been incorporating a 5% blend of biodiesel (B5) into its fuel delivery service for several years. The next step will be to incorporate a higher blend in the next few years, up to B20 where manufacturer's warranties and weather conditions allow. Under the Fleet Greening Plan, fleet emissions are forecast to be reduced by approximately 640 tonnes in 2013/14 compared with business as usual.
BC Hydro has over 100 buildings in more than 60 municipalities across the province. Whether building new facilities or renovating existing space, BC Hydro is working to reduce the environmental impact of our operations, conserve energy and improve worker health.
In 2010, we opened a new LEED Gold district office in Port Alberni and started building a new facility at the Horne Payne substation in Burnaby which will also be LEED Gold. These buildings incorporate many sustainable features, such as:
- high-efficiency heating and cooling systems,
- low flow water fixtures,
- rain water capture,
- storm water recovery, and
- energy-efficient lighting.
A renovated building with extensive energy efficiency improvements opened in Chetwynd in March, 2011 and over the next three years, BC Hydro is planning to start construction of new LEED Gold district office facilities in Maple Ridge, Prince George and Campbell River. Interior space floor transformations will continue to be consistent with LEED Gold standards and we will be seeking LEED Gold certification upon completion of all floors at our Dunsmuir and Edmonds head office spaces.
BC Hydro's Lead by Example department empowers employees to identify and implement conservation actions and ideas throughout the organization and into the community.
In 2009, we established Employee Conservation Leadership Awards to recognize individuals or teams who have shown leadership in instilling a conservation culture within BC Hydro. Our Green Team program has expanded to 34 teams representing over 85 per cent of employees and sample campaigns include workstation power-downs (turning off all equipment at night), waste reduction (bring a mug and ugliest plate campaigns) and take the stairs.
The expected impacts of climate change include an increase in mean global annual temperature, changes in precipitation patterns, and a greater frequency of extreme events, such as floods, droughts, and severe storms.
All of these have implications for BC Hydro's business operations. Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns could alter the timing and volume of spring run-off and customer demand, with implications for hydroelectricity generation and the dispatch of resources.
Through a partnership with the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, BC Hydro is working to understand the potential impacts of climate change to our operations and activities so that we can take steps to manage associated risks. Recent analysis we have done with PCIC has resulted in the 2012 Potential Impacts of Climate Change on BC Hydro - Managed Water Resources [PDF, 4.0 MB].
This work will continue, as we seek to evaluate how the projected hydrological changes may impact hydroelectric power generation in the province.