Province Updates Act to Prioritize Affordability, Clean Energy

February 29, 2024

The Province is updating B.C.’s energy objectives in the Clean Energy Act to help ensure that people and businesses continue to have access to affordable, clean electricity needed to power a growing economy, while reducing carbon pollution.

“With costs rising across the country at rates that are unsustainable for many people, we are focused on keeping the cost of clean electricity as low as possible,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “Affordable, stable BC Hydro rates are good for households, businesses and climate as we work together to power B.C.’s growing economy with clean energy instead of fossil fuels.”

Public utilities in B.C., including BC Hydro, are regulated by the B.C. Utilities Commission, an independent agency. The 2010 Clean Energy Act includes a list of B.C.’s energy objectives that the commission is required to consider in making its decisions. The Province has issued a regulation to update the objectives under the act to reflect government’s efforts to deliver affordable clean power. For the first time since the act was introduced, keeping BC Hydro rates low is now a clear goal.

The changes include:

  • adding a new objective to ensure that BC Hydro rate changes do not exceed cumulative inflation. BC Hydro has applied to the utilities commission for rate increases below the rate of inflation for six years in a row.
  • adding a new objective to ensure that BC Hydro rate changes are predictable and stable from year to year, providing greater certainty for people and businesses looking to invest in B.C.
  • adding a new objective to ensure that BC Hydro is ready to acquire enough electricity to meet B.C.’s long-term climate targets under the Climate Change Accountability Act.
  • amending the existing objective that 93% of the electricity generated in B.C. needs to come from clean or renewable electricity generation (which the province has surpassed) to a target of 100% by 2030 for the integrated grid. This will not affect remote communities or the use of gas-fired electricity generation as emergency back up, or the use of natural gas for other needs, such as home heating.

The B.C. Utilities Commission publicly reviews and makes transparent decisions on applications from utilities to approve rate changes, long-term resource plans, supply contracts and other expenditures. The energy objectives in the Clean Energy Act do not obligate the commission or a public utility to undertake specific actions or guarantee a certain decision. However, they provide a signal to the commission regarding the Province’s goals. Under the Utilities Commission Act, the commission is required to take into account a wide range of considerations and make decisions that are in the public interest.

The changes are based on the work and recommendations of the BC Hydro task force, and support the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation’s mandate commitment to better align the framework governing the B.C. Utilities Commission with the Province’s climate and affordability goals.

“We need more clean energy to power our homes and businesses and to attract investment in industries – from critical minerals to green hydrogen – that we need to reduce pollution and protect our communities from climate change,” Osborne said. “Instead of skyrocketing rates, we have worked to keep rate increases well below inflation and are already generating 98% of our electricity from clean or renewable sources. Together with BC Hydro’s call for power and new capital plan, the changes we are making today will ensure we build on this progress in the future, creating new sustainable jobs while keeping costs affordable.”

In spring 2024, BC Hydro will launch its first competitive call for power in more than 15 years to acquire new sources of clean, renewable electricity, including wind and solar. B.C. is well positioned to add additional intermittent renewables to the power grid due to its integrated, flexible system of hydroelectric dams that act as large batteries. The reservoirs store water and allow BC Hydro to ramp electricity production up or down almost instantly, providing a reliable backup for when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.

Adding more wind and solar to the grid will also increase the resiliency of B.C.’s electricity system in a changing climate. The call for power is expected to be the first in a series of calls as BC Hydro continues to provide the power to electrify B.C.’s growing economy and meet the Province’s climate goals.

In addition, BC Hydro’s updated 10-year capital plan, Power Pathway: Building B.C.’s energy future, provides for nearly $36 billion in community and regional infrastructure investments throughout the province between 2024-25 and 2033-34. This represents an increase of 50% over BC Hydro’s previous capital plan ($24 billion), and includes a significant increase in electrification and emissions-reduction infrastructure projects (nearly $10 billion, up from $1 billion). These new construction projects are projected to support more than 10,500 jobs on average annually, and will increase and maintain BC Hydro’s capital investments as major projects like Site C are completed.

Quick Facts:

  • B.C. currently has the second-lowest residential electricity rates in North America, and the third lowest commercial and industrial rates.
  • BC Hydro rates are currently 15.6% lower than the cumulative rate of inflation over the past seven years (starting 2017-18), and 12.4% lower than the previous government’s 10 Year Rates Plan.
  • Currently, 98% of the power generated for B.C.’s integrated grid comes from clean or renewable resources, making B.C. the leader in North America when it comes to clean energy.
  • Electricity demand in B.C. is expected to increase by 15% between now and 2030 due to population growth, housing construction, increased industrial development, and people and businesses switching from fossil fuels to clean electricity, among other factors.
  • BC Hydro was a net exporter of electricity for the past five years (2019-23), with the majority of imports coming from clean sources of electricity.


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