Summer 2021: Share feedback on our draft plan
Summer 2021: Phase two consultation is now complete.
Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on our draft Integrated resource plan [PDF, 3.09 MB].
We are considering your feedback as we finalize the Integrated Resource Plan. A summary of what we heard is being prepared and will be available this fall.
We’re introducing new ways to meet energy and capacity needs while minimizing the need for new physical infrastructure. With evolving trends in the electricity business our plan focuses on customer needs.
We have sufficient power to serve your electricity needs for most of the next decade, before an additional supply of electricity is needed. This means we’re ready to support B.C.’s population and economic growth, while playing our part in achieving the Government of B.C.’s CleanBC plan. We’re also prepared to deal with uncertainties such as the rate of COVID-19 recovery and additional opportunities for fuel switching.
Our draft plan also responds to current trends. For example, customers expect more than just reliable service. They want to make better use of technology and have access to data on their electricity usage. We’re providing choices for them to manage their electricity use through technology and voluntary rate options. A key priority is to find customer-based solutions that help keep rates affordable.
With technology changes happening so rapidly, our plan is flexible and scalable and will be reviewed in about five years to incorporate updated information and new trends.
The main elements of our plan
Province-wide, we have enough power to meet customer needs for roughly the next decade. However, we still need to manage current resources, as there are some regional power needs – such as in the populated South Coast – where electric vehicle growth is expected.
The main parts of our plan are listed below.
What we’re proposing: Keep our current level of energy savings programs and get ready to ramp up.
What it is: For more than 30 years, our energy conservation programs have played a key role in helping British Columbians reduce their energy use through energy efficiency education, providing tools and support to manage electricity use, and providing incentives for purchasing energy-efficient products.
We’re planning to continue with our current program level. Overall, this will continue to reduce the amount of electricity we use. In a few years, when needed, we’ll increase incentives to capture more savings.
What we’re proposing: Pursuing voluntary time-varying rates and supporting demand response programs to reduce electricity use during high demand, or peak periods.
What it is: Voluntary time-varying rates use a price signal to help customers shift their electricity use from peak electricity use periods to low electricity use periods. Customers can sign up for these voluntary rates and receive incentives to use supporting tools if it suits their needs. The rates and supporting demand response programs we’re proposing are in the table below:
Voluntary rate or program
In order to help meet capacity needs, time-varying rates encourage customers to use less electricity when demand is highest, such as during the after-work period (5 to 9 p.m.). Time-varying rates include higher prices for electricity during the system peak period and lower prices during other times of the day.
By delaying the use of high-consumption appliances like clothes washers and dryers to after the peak period, customers can take advantage of cheaper rates.
Critical Peak Pricing
Participating customers take advantage of incentives offered if they shift electricity use in advance of a system peak event, typically notified the day before.
This pricing structure offers generally lower electricity prices, with brief windows of high prices at a “peak time” of electricity use. Customers can reduce their bills by responding to a request to reduce consumption during the peak time event.
Program support for voluntary time-varying rates
|Automated controlled devices such as smart home technologies help support shifting the use of electricity from a period of high system demand to a lower demand period.|
Supporting programs targeting electric vehicle drivers*
|Education, and incentives to use supporting technologies and shift the timing of electric vehicle charging. These will be combined with a time-varying rate.|
*The electric vehicle charging program is listed as a separate element in the draft plan.
What we’re proposing: Offer a market-based price to existing clean or renewable Independent Power Producers with electricity purchase agreements expiring in the next five years.
What it is: There are approximately 20 existing clean or renewable projects that provide power to BC Hydro, with electricity purchase agreements set to expire before April 1, 2026.
What we’re proposing: Upgrades to transmission lines from the Interior of B.C. to the South Coast.
What it is: Transmission upgrades increase the ability to bring more electricity through the power line at any one time.
These upgrades involve capacitor and substations and don’t include new power lines.
While preliminary, we propose upgrades in two steps:
- Replace and add equipment to six existing stations. This helps maintain the voltage levels in a transmission line, allowing more electricity to pass through a line over long distances.
- Add up to five new capacitor stations (locations to be determined).
Our plan is to advance step one and prepare to initiate step two. A key part of these steps is to undertake early engagement with affected Indigenous Nations.
What we’re proposing: We expect to need additional resources in the second half of the planning period. The specifics will be addressed in our next integrated resource plan, anticipated in about five years.
A lot can happen between now and when these resources are needed, and we have time before making any decisions.
What it is: Future resources could include:
- More renewals of expiring purchase agreements (about 50 agreements could further defer supply needs
- Upgrades to BC Hydro resources
- New clean resources (e.g. wind, solar)
There’s an abundance of increasingly cost-effective resources to draw on when the time comes. We keep an inventory of resources, and monitor technologies and costs. When it’s time to do so, we’ll consult and make decisions with the latest information available.
What we’re proposing: Undertake a process to evaluate whether to decommission or refurbish each of the six small facilities at or reaching end-of-life. The choice to refurbish could either be by BC Hydro or by divesting ownership and refurbishing by a third party.
What it is: We have several smaller hydroelectric facilities in the province. This includes some that are more than 70 years old that are still generating power today. Decisions are coming for these six aging, small BC Hydro-owned facilities, which make up less than 1% of our power generation.
The 2021 IRP lays out the investment decision review timing for the facilities at or reaching end-of-life using a multi-year staged approach. Analysis will consider factors including safety, environmental and financial risks, in addition to the interests of Indigenous Nations and community stakeholders.
We need to be prepared. Contingency planning is a major part of our 2021 IRP. As part of the plan, we look at what to do if electricity demand is different, such as if we see more electrification or if the electricity savings programs are not able to deliver what we expect.
Our base plan puts us in a good place to address uncertainties. One additional item we propose is to explore utility-scale batteries.
What we’re proposing: Prepare the option to introduce utility-scale batteries in the South Coast as a way to meet capacity needs, if needed.
What it is: Utility-scale batteries operate just like regular batteries but at a much larger scale. Batteries store power to be used when customer demand is high. When demand is low, like overnight, they’re able recharge. These batteries connect directly to our system and are used to meet short-term power demand.
Utility-scale batteries are a newer capacity resource which have a relatively short lead time, can be deployed on a flexible and scalable basis, and are expected to see sharp cost declines over the next 10 years.
Other ongoing work
During phase one of our consultation, we heard about what matters to you. Some of what we heard is related to initiatives that we’re continuing to work on outside of this 20-year plan.
Learn more about these related topics:
- We’re developing a five-year electrification plan to encourage fuel switching and support the provincial greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. See the engagement materials for our electrification plan development, which we’ll be submitting to the BCUC in August 2021.
- We’re assessing climate change impacts and looking at what we need to do to adapt to climate change. Read more about our activities here.
- Our net metering program continues to offer customers who would like to offset their annual electricity demand with small-scale power such as solar panels.
- The way British Columbians use electricity is changing, and it's time for us to review how we determine your electricity rates. Visit bchydro.com/yourrates to learn more and look for updates on how you can be involved as we explore options for what residential electricity rates could look like in the future.