Questions & Answers

Questions on the Request for Qualifications ("RFQ"), the RFQ process and related documents issued during the call process, and BC Hydro's responses, are posted on this page. They are numbered chronologically based on the date of posting. Most recent Q&As are posted first.

BC Hydro's answers to proponent's questions were for general information only. They did not constitute legal or other advice and did not amend or form part of the RFQ, unless confirmed by Addendum or revised RFQ documents.

September 8, 2010

32. Where can a Respondent find further information on the Province's First Nations consultation requirements for a project?
If Respondents are not familiar with the Province's consultation procedures, they should contact their local Integrated Land Management Bureau ("ILMB") office if their project requires First Nations consultation. ILMB’s First Nations Initiatives managers will be able to advise Respondents on best practices for engaging with specific First Nations. Assistance in determining the appropriate ILMB contact information can be obtained from the RFQ Administrator.

31. If a Respondent has existing Forest Licences functioning without First Nations issues, will First Nations consultation be required?
If a Respondent has existing Forest Licences that are functioning without any First Nations issues, BC Hydro is recommending that Respondents contact their local ILMB Front Counter B.C. office for information about authorizations and permits or amendments to existing permits that may be required for their project. Respondents should include any information obtained from ILMB in their Proposal.

30. When should a Respondent be consulting with First Nations?
If First Nations consultation is required, Respondents should be starting their consultation with First Nations prior to submitting their Proposal. Consultation should be ongoing following the Proposal submission and while the Proposal is still under consideration in the RFQ process. Although BC Hydro will be conducting an assessment of the reasonableness and adequacy of First Nations consultation only after a Proposal has been qualified, BC Hydro will also conduct a preliminary review of a Respondent’s First Nations consultation record as part of BC Hydro's assessment of project development and operating risk, and will give preference for Proposals demonstrating Aboriginal benefits.

29. What material should a Respondent include in its consultation record?
A typical First Nations consultation record includes copies of correspondence with First Nations concerning the project, dates of meetings with First Nations, as well as minutes or meeting notes and presentation materials. A typical First Nations consultation record also includes any concerns that First Nations have identified with the project and responses by the Respondent to those concerns. Similar communications with ILMB or other governmental agencies regarding First Nations issues and concerns are also included. Respondents should attempt to ensure that their information is succinctly presented in order to facilitate BC Hydro’s review process.

First Nations consultation records will also support Respondents’ applications for provincial and federal permits.

28. What is BC Hydro’s process for assessing First Nations consultation?
For the Community-Based Biomass Power Call, BC Hydro will conduct a preliminary review of a Respondent’s First Nations consultation record prior to qualification. After a Proposal has been qualified and while bilateral negotiations are ongoing, BC Hydro will assess the reasonableness and adequacy of a Respondent’s First Nations consultation before an EPA is awarded. The assessment process is iterative in that BC Hydro may ask the Respondent to provide additional information before completing its assessment.

27. My fuel plan includes a potential requirement for forest tenure. I have not yet secured this tenure – will this negatively impact my project's chance to be qualified in the RFQ?
Forest tenures for bioenergy supply contracts are not awarded until an Electricity Purchase Agreement ("EPA") is offered for a project. Through the CBB RFQ, BC Hydro seeks to qualify at least two projects to enter into negotiations, which may then lead to the award of an EPA. Any EPA awards will therefore occur sometime after the CBB RFQ is completed. All Proposals will be evaluated against the criteria stated in the RFQ. Respondents may identify forest tenure as part of the fuel plan for their project, but a tenure supply agreement does not need to be in place at the time of Proposal submission.

For additional information regarding forest tenures and EPAs, please refer to the Bioenergy Phase 2 Call Q&As no. 19-23.

June 29, 2010

26. How is the CBB RFQ affected by the Clean Energy Act?
The Community-Based Biomass RFQ is not specifically addressed in the Clean Energy Act. It is expected that the regulatory process described in section 17 of the RFQ document will continue to apply to the CBB RFQ.

25. Why is the non-integrated area of Anahim Lake eligible for the CBB RFQ?
BC Hydro recently completed a Community Electricity Plan (CEP) for the Anahim Lake area. The CEP identifies small-scale biomass as a potential viable alternative to the current diesel-generated electricity. Please email us if you have any questions.

For more information on BC Hydro's programs for remote communities and non-integrated (off-grid) areas, contact Non-Integrated Areas at 1 866 901 8088.

24. What is the schedule for submissions for Anahim Lake projects?
Proposal submissions are due on the same date as other submissions for the Community-Based Biomass RFQ; however deadlines for submitting the interconnections studies have been adjusted according to the dates indicated in Addendum 1 to the RFQ.

23. Will proposals for Anahim Lake be evaluated separately from the other submissions?
Some aspects of the proposal evaluation for projects in Anahim Lake will be different than for projects that connect to the integrated system. Where appropriate, unique aspects related to a non-integrated area (e.g. community-specific aspects of generation and load requirements as well as distribution system aspects) will be used for evaluation purposes instead of system-related variables.

22. Will BC Hydro be holding an information workshop?
Yes. BC Hydro is planning a workshop for registered Respondents only. The purpose of the workshop will be to help Respondents in proposal preparation, and BC Hydro will walk through sections of the Proposal Guide, including the quantitative and commercial requirements, interconnection requirements, and answer questions related to the RFQ process. The workshop will be held in Vancouver, and will also be webcast for those outside of the Lower Mainland. Instructions on how to participate will be emailed to registered Respondents.

21. The RFQ says that consideration will be given to technologies at the 'late demonstration' or 'market development' phases. What do these phases mean?
Successful technologies evolve through an innovation continuum, as shown below, starting from early R&D, through demonstration, and onwards through market entry, penetration and maturity. At the late demonstration phase or commercial prototype phase, technologies are deployed for the first time at full scale in a real-world environment. In previous phases the technical performance of the technology itself has been proven, and the chief objective for the technology proponent is now to demonstrate to potential customers the financial performance under real world and fully integrated conditions. Technologies graduate from the commercial prototype phase into the market entry phase after successful operation in three or more locations for three of more years. At the market entry phase, the technology proponents are providing premium solutions to early adopters and beginning to build awareness among component or feedstock suppliers, regulators and potential customers, though they may have to overcome regulatory or financial obstacles.

20. How will technologies be assessed for their broader commercialization potential?
The bioenergy generation technology will be located within the innovation continuum based on a simple evaluation of the technical development and market development within B.C. Technologies that are located in the commercial prototype and market entry phases will be assessed as having a good commercialization potential.

May 25, 2010

19. Is there a fee to participate in the RFQ?
Yes. There is a non-refundable Proposal submission fee of $5,000, which is due when your Proposal is submitted to BC Hydro. This amount should be made payable by a cheque or bank draft to British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority or BC Hydro.

Before Proposal submission, all Respondents wishing to participate in the RFQ must first register. Registration in the RFQ is free and is non-binding (i.e. if you register that doesn't mean you have to submit a Proposal). The registration deadline is May 28, 2010.

18. Are BC Hydro customers eligible?
BC Hydro customers may participate in this RFQ if they meet the eligibility requirements in the RFQ document. For example, projects can be new or existing, provided however that capacity and/or generation currently under contract to BC Hydro or serving current load is not eligible during the term (including any renewal term at BC Hydro's option) of the existing contract. In addition, Respondents/customers must not have applied for, nor be eligible to receive, funding under the Government of Canada's "Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program" for their project.

17. Are biogas projects eligible?
Project generation must come from the combustion or gasification (including biogas) of biomass fuel types that qualify as clean biomass pursuant to the Province's Clean or Renewable Electricity Definitions.

Biomass fuel types includes, but is not limited to:

  • Clean wood biomass, meaning
    • Wood residue within the meaning of the Forest Act,
    • Wood debris from logging, construction, or demolition operations,
    • Organic residues from pulp and paper production processes, and
    • Timber, within the meaning of the Forest Act infested by the mountain pine beetle;
  • Liquid fuels derived from biomass including bio-oil, ethanol, methanol, and bio-diesel;
  • Dedicated energy crops; and
  • Clean organically sourced material separated from municipal solid waste (MSW) and processed to serve as a combustion fuel.

16. What price is BC Hydro going to pay for electricity from these projects?
BC Hydro is seeking cost-effective energy from projects that have other benefits, such as community and reliability benefits. BC Hydro will be looking at contract terms and prices with projects that have previously entered into Electricity Purchase Agreements (EPA) with BC Hydro from prior calls, but the CBB process is unique in that a greater preference will be given to community, First Nations and other benefits as outlined in the RFQ objectives. At this stage of the process, contract terms and prices have not been pre-determined and will be specific to a project.

15. Why is BC Hydro assessing the adequacy of First Nations consultation?
On February 18, 2009, the B.C. Court of Appeal issued two decisions which have significant implications for BC Hydro's role in First Nations consultation with respect to the proposed sale of power to BC Hydro. The decisions are the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council v. British Columbia Utilities Commission, (2009 BCCA 67) and the Kwikwetlem First Nation v. British Columbia Utilities Commission (2009 BCCA 68). In light of these decisions, BC Hydro will be assessing the adequacy of First Nations consultation prior to entering into an EPA for the purchase of power.

14. When will BC Hydro assess the adequacy of First Nations consultation?
The adequacy of First Nations consultation is not an RFQ eligibility requirement. After the completion of this RFQ, and prior to entering into an EPA with respect to a project, BC Hydro will determine whether First Nations consultation is adequate for the purpose of entering into an EPA, taking into account the project's stage of development.

13. During engagement on the Draft RFQ, BC Hydro discussed including Submission of a First Nations Consultation Plan as an eligibility requirement. Is a First Nations consultation plan still a requirement in this RFQ?
In order to make an assessment about the adequacy of the Respondent's First Nations consultation, BC Hydro requires specific information about the progress of the consultation. As a result, rather than requesting a consultation plan, BC Hydro is requesting specific information on the progress of the consultation, and the adequacy of First Nations consultation assessment will occur after the completion of this RFQ, and prior to entering into an EPA .

April 7, 2010

12. Is the CBB RFQ part of Phase II of the Bioenergy Call for Power?
The CBB RFQ is a stand-alone program under BC Hydro's Bioenergy Initiatives, which are guided by the BC Bioenergy Strategy. In order to distinguish between CBB and the Biomass Projects RFP for larger-scale projects, Phase II now refers to the Biomass Projects Request for Proposals only. Phase II follows Phase I of the Bioenergy Call for Power (completed in 2009).

11. Why is the target for the CBB RFQ at least two projects?
BC Hydro is seeking to qualify at least two projects to engage in negotiations to sign an Electricity Purchase Agreement (EPA) after the CBB RFQ process is complete. The CBB RFQ is a new approach for BC Hydro in that the evaluation criteria and considerations are broader and more flexible than past power acquisition processes for smaller-scale projects. As such, BC Hydro expects to learn from the outcome of this RFQ and potentially apply learnings to future opportunities for smaller-scale distributed generation.

10. Why is BC Hydro conducting this process as a Request for Qualifications?
The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) will provide information for BC Hydro to evaluate and select potential projects for bilateral negotiations. One of the goals of this approach is to limit the upfront development costs being incurred by parties that respond to this RFQ prior to submission, allowing Respondents to know if they are qualified before proceeding further.

9. Why is there a 5 megawatt limit on projects?
The 5 MW size is in keeping with the community aspect of the CBB RFQ. This project size is intended to allow fuel to be sourced locally, for example from community-based forests, which may only provide small amounts of forest-based biomass.

8. What if we can't respond to an item in the Proposal Guide, or our project isn't at a stage where that information is available?
Respondents are encouraged to provide as much detail as possible about their project no matter what stage they are at in the development cycle. If an item is not applicable, Respondents should write 'Not Applicable'. If some information is not yet available, Respondents should include specific development plans for items that could pose challenges or barriers to development.

Items in the Proposal Guide indicate the level of information BC Hydro requires to fairly evaluate proposals. BC Hydro understands that projects may be in various stages of planning and has heard the concern that early-stage proposals may be disadvantaged in this RFQ process because of a lack of detail.

BC Hydro acknowledges that projects in the very early stages of development may be at a disadvantage from a development risk perspective compared to other more advanced projects. However, it is important to note that early-stage projects are not precluded from participating in this RFQ, and that BC Hydro is interested in identifying community-based projects at any stage in development. As noted above, Respondents should endeavour to provide as much information as possible to show they understand the necessary steps and potential challenges and barriers to developing their projects.

For further details, please review the 'Expectations' statement in the Proposal Guide.

7. Will BC Hydro consider arrangements in which Respondents propose to retain the environmental attributes associated with their project?
One of the objectives of the Community-Based Biomass RFQ is to help BC Hydro reach its goal of achieving electricity self-sufficiency by 2016, while securing cost-effective clean or renewable energy for ratepayers. In order to help achieve this goal, BC Hydro's strong preference is to receive the environmental attributes associated with the electricity being purchased under the RFQ.

Respondents are encouraged to review BC Hydro's treatment of environmental attributes in prior acquisition processes in order to further understand this preference.

6. In this RFQ, there seem to be many criteria that are important to BC Hydro. How do we know which criteria will be given more weight than others?
In response to feedback received regarding the draft RFQ, increased clarity around the use and context of evaluation criteria, as well as an indication of BC Hydro's evaluation preferences have been provided in the final RFQ.

5. What type of contract is BC Hydro seeking?
To allow some flexibility for Respondents with respect to the type of contract that is the most suitable for their proposed projects, BC Hydro is not providing a specimen Electricity Purchase Agreement (EPA) for this RFQ.

In Section 4.2 of the Proposal Guide, Respondents are requested to provide a mark-up of a BC Hydro specimen EPA from a recent BC Hydro power procurement process to indicate which commercial terms they may prefer. The most recent Specimen EPAs can be found on the Clean Power Call and on Phase I of the Bioenergy Initiatives websites for firm energy supply, and on the Standing Offer Program website for non-firm energy supply.

4. How will the Federal Government's 'Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program' affect this RFQ?
BC Hydro has added an eligibility requirement which limits participation of Respondents who are eligible to receive funding under the Government of Canada's Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program for their projects.

3. Is the timeline outlined in Schedule 2 flexible?
In response to feedback received during the July 2009 engagement sessions regarding timing and how interested parties wished to have more time to understand the RFQ and prepare submissions, BC Hydro has extended the proposal preparation submission timeframe. This finalized timetable is not expected to change and submissions must be received by the prescribed deadline.

Please note that, as the CBB RFQ is a new process for BC Hydro, the outcome of this RFQ may lead to future opportunities for smaller scale, distributed generation projects.

2. What is the purpose of the interconnection study, and will the interconnection study deposit be refundable in the event the Proposal is not accepted?
An interconnection study is necessary as it allows BC Hydro and/or British Columbia Transmission Corporation to analyze and assess the impact of a project on the Distribution or Transmission System. The information will also be used during the evaluation of proposals to determine Distribution System benefits, as sought by this RFQ. In recognition of the smaller scale of projects being sought, the interconnection study application process has been simplified for the CBB RFQ. All applications go to BC Hydro and a formal interconnection study will not be initiated until the RFQ process is complete.

The $15,000 deposit will be refunded to those projects not qualified in the RFQ. If a proposal is successful in the RFQ process (i.e. is a 'Qualified Proposal'), the cost of the interconnection study, and any subsequent studies necessary to complete the project's interconnection until the Commercial Operation Date is achieved, will be borne by the Respondent.

BC Hydro's Generator Interconnections and Transmission Services team are able to assist potential Respondents if they have questions. For more information and for contact details, please visit the Generator Interconnections and Transmission Services website.

November 18, 2009

1. On February 18, 2009, the B.C. Court of Appeal issued two decisions which have significant implications for BC Hydro's role in First Nations consultation with respect to the proposed sale of power to BC Hydro. The decisions are the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council v. British Columbia Utilities Commission, (2009 BCCA 67) and the Kwikwetlem First Nation v. British Columbia Utilities Commission (2009 BCCA 68). How will these decisions impact the CBB RFQ?
As the CBB RFQ is still in relatively early stages, BC Hydro has the ability to incorporate new requirements with respect to First Nations consultation into call documents and timelines. BC Hydro will update the CBB RFQ website as new information becomes available.