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New opportunities for industrial and large commercial customers

Handshake on a building site
BC Hydro now offers even better energy efficiency funding opportunities to industrial and large commercial customers.

How do we define "industrial" and "commercial" customers?

Early in 2023, we spoke to Tamara Berger, BC Hydro's industrial sector marketing manager. Since then, her team has grown to become the Large Commercial and Industrial Program Team.

Large commercial organizations generally belong to industries such as healthcare, municipalities, property management, education, hospitality, retail and government. Industrial customers, on the other hand, are most often within the pulp and paper, forestry, mining, agricultural, manufacturing, food and beverage, and general manufacturing sectors.

"As a guideline," says Tamara, "If your organization's aggregate consumption is at least two gigawatt hours per year but doesn't involve any kind of processing, then we consider you a large commercial customer. And if your business does include processing, then you're likely an industrial customer."

So, what changes can large commercial customers expect to see in BC Hydro energy management programs and offers?

"We've increased incentive funding levels so that we can encourage more projects to move ahead, supporting the higher efficiency targets we have ahead. We're also looking to further integrate our offers for business customers so that it's easier to navigate the options available."

Here are our four programs currently available to industrial and large commercial customers:

Energy audits and studies

Almost every facility has room to improve efficiency, and we offer two different ways to identify opportunities.

The first is the new integrated energy audit, which replaces our plant-wide audit. While the plant-wide audit focused mainly on energy efficiency for industrial sites, the integrated energy audit now looks at all opportunities for both commercial sites and industrial sites, regardless of the site type. It reveals energy efficiency and electrification opportunities, as well as potential demand response or capacity options. It's a one-stop high-level check to make sure you're not leaving anything on the table. You can find more details about the integrated energy audit in this accompanying story.

The second way you can learn how to optimize your organization's energy savings is by undergoing our energy efficiency feasibility study. This includes an in-depth analysis of possible solutions and a cost/benefit analysis in the case where implementation would result in an energy savings opportunity of at least 300 MWh per year. An energy efficiency feasibility study is also useful if you're designing a new industrial facility or planning a major expansion.

"A qualified Alliance member will conduct the study and do the calculations so that you're able to realistically estimate your savings and the implementation costs of the project," Tamara explains. "This helps you build a solid business case to take to your organization and demonstrate what the payback and long-term savings could be with an incentive from BC Hydro."

So, which one might be right for your organization? "The integrated energy audit is the 50,000-foot view, plus or minus 50% in terms of the energy savings accuracy that you can expect in your report," says Tamara. "It's a laundry list of recommendations and we can help you prioritize what to move ahead with first. But if you're aware of a specific opportunity and need to get to project-level detail on something more complex, then you'll need to do a feasibility study, which is plus or minus 10% in terms of accuracy."


An audit almost certainly opens the door to discussing our incentives for energy-efficient upgrades: "Over the next couple of years, we're aiming for increased energy savings across the board and we're increasing our incentive levels to support that," says Tamara.

Low-carbon electricity (LCE)

If you're a BC Hydro customer, you'll be glad to know that our electricity is already low-carbon. Along with helping you find ways to increase energy efficiency, our audits and feasibility studies may also investigate electrification opportunities while project funding is available through our electrification incentives for industry.

Strategic energy management (SEM)

Underpinning all our programs is strategic energy management (SEM). "Customers see huge benefits when they think about managing their energy strategically, putting a plan in place and implementing it with support from our other offerings," says Tamara. "Originally, SEM was just focused on energy conservation, but we've widened this to look at the bigger picture, including low-carbon electrification and helping customers to explore capacity-focused demand-side management. Reducing your peak demand can make a huge difference to both your bill and our infrastructure requirements."

How could these changes help you?

To find out more about how these changes to our programs might benefit your business, contact your Key Account Manager or Regional Energy Manager, or call 604 522 4713 in the Lower Mainland or 1 866 522 4713 elsewhere in B.C.