Energy conservation becomes the law

On June 3, the provincial Clean Energy Act was passed by the B.C. Legislature and set out a new electricity conservation target for British Columbians.

"Previously, our goal was to meet 50% of the long term electricity gap through conservation by 2020. Now, the target is raised to 66% of load growth," says Kevin Wallace, BC Hydro's Industrial Business Strategy Manager. "Now it's a legislated target."

"We have been able to demonstrate that conservation and energy efficiency can play a tangible role in meeting our energy supply needs in the province. It has become a credible resource option in the province, and it's the most cost-effective compared to expenditures on purchasing the power from independent power producers or developing new sources of generation."

The new Clean Energy Act reinforces BC Hydro's energy conservation objectives and sets the foundation for three priorities:

  • Ensuring electricity self-sufficiency at low rates;
  • Harnessing B.C.'s clean power potential to create jobs in every region;
  • Strengthening environmental stewardship and reducing greenhouse gases.

Wallace says BC Hydro's success in achieving conservation goals has been running ahead of its previous target, so while the new mandate is larger, "we're on track for it."

What it means for business

"This is good news for our business customers," Wallace continues, "B.C. has used its plentiful, low cost power supply to attract business investment. This means we will continue to deliver Power Smart programs that can help our customers achieve energy efficiency and gain a sustainable competitive advantage."

[The province] will also be looking to attract industries that have a green slant, and that are seeking a green and renewable form of energy supply," Wallace says. "That is, they may be making a product that helps the environment, and they may be seeking a lower carbon fuel as well. That will increase growth [in demand] and make our conservation targets even more important."

Smart meters and smart grids

The Clean Energy Act also renewed the commitment to smart meters and smart grids. BC Hydro has to complete the installation of smart meters province-wide by 2012 as scheduled.

The smart meters will allow ratepayers to better manage their electricity use by taking advantage of new electricity pricing programs aimed at encouraging conservation and smart use of electricity. The smart grids will further create a two-way intelligent network which allows residential, commercial or industrial customers to sell excess power back to BC Hydro, or to store power for personal use during an outage or higher-rate periods.

"Large industrial customers already have an advanced meter, but now this will be extended to all BC Hydro customers, including all other business customers," says Wallace. "It's that old quote: you can't manage what you don't measure. We have some large industrial customers who get their bill bi-monthly and don't have the ability to see an energy profile. Smart metering will be the stepping stone to more timely information."

Wallace says access to usage data also means companies will have more opportunities to make use of Power Smart programs such as the Monitoring, Targeting and Reporting Initiative, which is key to developing a Sustainable Energy Management Plan.

BCTC integration promotes efficiency

The merger of BC Transmission Corporation (BCTC) and BC Hydro, directed by the Act, will also improve opportunities for customers, says Wallace.

"The opportunities for efficiency will now fall under one roof," Wallace says. "It will streamline interconnections and allow for integrated planning processes, which will hopefully validate the need for customer based demand response programs in some localized constraint areas."

Wallace says the Clean Energy Act will further strengthen the partnership between BC Hydro and its customers – particularly its largest industrial customers – to seek efficiencies and build a strong energy future for B.C.

"There are still a lot of opportunities out there, a huge potential to reduce energy waste and improve efficiencies in production and manufacturing processes," Wallace notes. However, he says progress on conservation needs to continue in order to realize and sustain the benefits of these opportunities, particularly in terms of maintaining competitiveness in the long term.

"In B.C., industrial companies are fortunate to have low cost power and Power Smart here to support them. But there are now other jurisdictions around the world that are stepping up and doing a lot with energy efficiency and energy management from the standpoints of energy security and competitiveness.

"So yes, we have our targets, and the province has their targets. But I think for business it will be increasingly important for them to reduce energy use and energy cost and therefore become more efficient, just to compete. And our programs are going to continue to be here to support them."

Source: BC Hydro News