May 19, 2021
There are two imminent challenges British Columbia (B.C.) faces alongside humanity—COVID-19 and climate change. For the former, we have seen the incredible synergy achieved when the world unites. Scientists from different countries collaborated and shared knowledge. Several vaccines were developed in a very short time frame that will curb the impact of the virus globally. For the latter concern of climate change, British Columbia has been an active leader in promoting sustainability. In 2018, the Province of British Columbia announced CleanBC, a strategy aiming to reduce climate pollution and move B.C. into a low-carbon economy.
Since then, many CleanBC initiatives have been introduced that encourage energy-efficient solutions. British Columbia is becoming a global leader for low-carbon products and technologies. In February 2021, in partnership with the Government of Canada, the provincial government announced CleanBC Industrial Electrification Rates to encourage industries to use more electricity in place of fossil fuels at their facilities. . From the news statement, Premier John Horgan said, “We are announcing plans to make it more affordable for industries to power up with clean B.C. electricity – helping spur new investment and job creation while reducing carbon pollution.”
Moreover, the federal and provincial governments have jointly created a new CleanBC Facilities Electrification Fund. The $84 million fund is available to eligible BC Hydro customers who upgrade and connect to the electrical grid, thus reducing greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions.
BC Hydro, a Crown corporation owned by the government and people of British Columbia, is the province’s main electricity provider. It is lowering the costs for industrial customers that switch from fossil fuels to electricity to power their operations, and for new clean industry customers that build new facilities or expand existing facilities. The discounted Clean BC Industrial Electrification Rates, which are 20% lower than BC Hydro’s current, standard industrial rates, will be available to an approved customer for a period of five years, with a gradual transition back to the standard industrial rate by year eight.
The CleanBC Facilities Electrification Fund helps reduce the costs to connect to the electric grid for BC Hydro customers like mines, companies producing renewable fuels, natural gas processing facilities and public transportation companies. These connection costs can be significant and present a barrier for industrial customers to further electrify their facilities and equipment. Approved customers could receive funding to cover up to 50% of eligible costs for electrical connections and upgrades to a cap of $15 million.
B.C. has an abundance of clean and reliable electricity that can be used to stimulate clean economic recovery and growth. In fact, BC Hydro generates 98% clean electricity, with the vast majority coming from hydroelectric resources.
Lower rates and reduced interconnection costs will help to keep the cost of using clean electricity competitive with other energy sources and will encourage companies to transition from traditional fossil fuels to clean electricity to power their operations. Fully subscribed, these new measures could collectively reduce or avoid more than one million tonnes of GHG emissions every year, depending on the industrial facilities that participate
The measures will attract clean investment and clean technology companies to British Columbia focused on innovation that could produce a renewable or low carbon fuel or create a process that would remove greenhouse gases. Overall, these measures further propel British Columbia forward to achieve its climate action targets as well as help fight climate change worldwide.
The new CleanBC Industrial Electrification Rates and the CleanBC Facilities Electrification Fund are forward-looking measures to help companies looking to use more electricity to lower their overall carbon imprint. British Columbia already has a robust clean energy sector with a plethora of green-thinking firms that are recognized internationally for leadership in the industry. These initiatives will also help the Province achieve its ambitious goal to scale-up clean technology and industrial transformation to achieve net-zero emissions as a country by 2050.
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