On June 23, 2020, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources introduced Bill 17, the Clean Energy Amendment Act, 2020.
Among other things, the amendments would revise the province’s energy objectives and remove the requirement for BC Hydro to achieve electricity self-sufficiency. The Bill would also open the door for BC Hydro to dispose of the Burrard Thermal facility. The amendments have been opposed by BC Independent Power Producers (“IPPs”) and independent MLA Andrew Weaver who has proposed further amendments to the Bill.
Please read on for further details.
Amending the Province’s Energy Objectives
Bill 17 would repeal two of the province’s current energy objectives introduced under the Clean Energy Act in 2010, namely to achieve electricity self-sufficiency and to be a net exporter of electricity from clean or renewable resources. These objectives would be replaced with a new objective for the province to serve grid-connected customers with clean electricity.
To facilitate the achievement of the objective to serve grid-connected customers with clean electricity, Bill 17 would introduce the following requirements:
- A regulated person must comply with any prescribed requirements respecting the generation and acquisition of clean electricity to meet the demand of their grid-connected customers.
- A regulated person must prepare and submit a report to the minister regarding the amount of clean and non-clean electricity generated, acquired and delivered (within and outside of the province) by the regulated person during the compliance period. The Minister will then publish a report on the information received for each compliance period.
- A regulated person may request information on the resources used to generate electricity that was delivered to it. This information must be provided to the regulated person within 30 days of receiving the request.
Removing BC Hydro’s Requirement to Achieve Electricity Self-Sufficiency
In line with removing the province’s objective of achieving electricity self-sufficiency, Bill 17 would remove the requirement for British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority (“BC Hydro”) to achieve electricity self-sufficiency by holding the rights to an amount of electricity that meets BC Hydro's electricity supply obligations (as defined by regulations) solely from generating facilities within the province.
By removing the requirement for BC Hydro to achieve electricity self-sufficiency, Bill 17 would give BC Hydro more flexibility to purchase clean electricity from outside of BC, likely from the United States, to meet the demand for electricity in the province. This would increase competition for IPPs in BC that are seeking to sell power to BC Hydro.
Expanded Regulatory Authority of the Minister
Bill 17 also expands the regulatory authority of the responsible minister under the Clean Energy Act. The minister may now make different regulations for different resources and determine what constitutes clean electricity, clean resources, and regulated persons under the Clean Energy Act.
Allowing the Disposal of Burrard Thermal
Finally, Bill 17 would remove Burrard Thermal, a natural gas power plant located in Port Moody, from the list of heritage assets under Schedule 1 of the Clean Energy Act, allowing BC Hydro to dispose of the Burrard Thermal plant in Port Moody. The Burrard Thermal plant had rarely been used in recent years, and was decommissioned in 2016.
Proposed Amendments to Bill 17
Concerns regarding the effects of Bill 17 have been raised by members of the Legislative Assembly. On July 15, 2020 Independent MLA Andrew Weaver proposed the following amendments to Bill 17:
- Removing the minister’s authority to determine what constitutes clean electricity and a clean resource;
- Maintaining the province’s energy objectives of electricity self-sufficiency and being a net exporter of electricity from clean or renewable resources; and
- Maintaining the requirement for BC Hydro to achieve electricity self-sufficiency.
Weaver proposed these amendments based on concerns of the effect Bill 17 could have on IPPs. If these amendments are accepted, the Clean Energy Act would remain largely unchanged. The province’s objectives of maintaining electricity self-sufficiency, being a net exporter of clean electricity, and serving grid-connected customers with clean electricity would require the province to rely on clean electricity production within BC.
We will continue to monitor the progress of Bill 17.
 “grid-connected customer” means a person in British Columbia who receives service through a direct or indirect connection to the British Columbia electrical transmission grid, other than a person in the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality. Bill 17, section 1 (d).
 “regulated person” means BC Hydro, a prescribed public utility or class of public utilities, or a prescribed person or class of persons who deliver electricity to grid-connected customers. Bill 17, section 1 (d).
 See Electricity Self-Sufficiency Regulation, B.C. Reg. 315/2020.