British Columbia has announced its first new investment in clean electricity in 15 years, with provincial utility BC Hydro planning a call for proposals next spring and C$140-million earmarked for Indigenous-led clean power projects.
The tender call will be limited to utility-scale wind and solar, the province says in a release. Clean Energy Canada reports that B.C. is looking for 3,000 gigawatt-hours per year of new, clean electricity, enough to power about 300,000 average B.C. homes.
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“As we face the threat of a record fire season across Canada, the need to switch to clean power to fight climate change has never felt more urgent,” said Premier David Eby. “To guarantee the affordable power for this important transition, we’re working in partnership with First Nations and BC Hydro to generate more of the clean electricity that British Columbia needs to build our economy, and grow our role as a clean energy superpower.”
For years, B.C. had put a damper on new renewables projects developed by independent power producers, largely on the assumption that the massive Site C hydropower project would supply all the electricity the province needed. Now, however, BC Hydro will be looking for new power sources sooner than expected, with demand set to increase 15% by 2030.
“This is due to economic and population growth, and as more homes, businesses, and industries switch from fossil fuels to clean electricity,” the provincial release states. “In the past six years, the number of electric vehicles on B.C.’s roads has increased by nearly 2,000%.”
BC Hydro is also setting up a task force aimed at advancing Indigenous ownership of and investment in clean power projects. The task force will pursue three priorities: speeding up project permitting and delivery, project oversight “to protect ratepayers and enable economic and climate priorities”, and accelerating economic opportunities.
Evan Pivnick, clean energy program manager at Clean Energy Canada, said the province’s latest data show the shift to an electrified economy moving faster than expected.
“BC Hydro’s first call for power in 15 years—with an important focus on ensuring Indigenous nations can advance clean power projects—will start to address B.C.’s future clean electricity needs as well as create good jobs across the province,” Pivnick said in a release. “It’s also a positive sign that the government is signaling the likely need for future calls, as this provides more certainty to clean energy companies that investments in B.C. have long-term potential.”