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BC Hydro issues call for new clean electricity to power B.C.'s future

Province of British Columbia
By Province of British Columbia
April 4th, 2024

BC Hydro has launched a call for power to ensure that people and businesses will have the clean, affordable electricity needed to power B.C.’s growing economy and create jobs throughout the province.

“British Columbians are on the front lines of the fight against climate change and seeing the devastating impact it is having on our communities. The switch from fossil fuels to clean power has never felt more urgent,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation.

“That’s why we are working in collaboration with BC Hydro, First Nations and the independent power industry to generate more of the electricity that B.C. needs to build a clean economy and power our future.”

Following months of engagement with the independent power industry, First Nations and stakeholders, BC Hydro has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to acquire approximately 3,000 gigawatt hours per year (GWh/y) of electricity. This is BC Hydro’s first competitive call for power in 15 years and will add 5% to its current supply, providing enough clean electricity to power 270,000 homes or approximately one million electric vehicles per year.

The development and construction of new clean-energy projects in response to the call for power will generate an estimated $2.3 billion to $3.6 billion in private capital spending throughout the province and create approximately 800 to 1,500 jobs on average annually.

Electricity demand is expected to increase by 15% between now and 2030. This is due to population growth and housing construction, increased industrial development, including in the mining sector, and more homes and businesses switching from fossil fuels to clean electricity, among other factors.

“We’re taking action to create thousands of construction jobs for skilled workers as major infrastructure projects like Site C reach completion,” Osborne said.

“Together with BC Hydro’s 10-year capital plan, today’s call for power – the first in over 15 years – will drive sustainable growth for communities all over the province, and ensure households and businesses can power up with clean, reliable and affordable electricity.”

B.C. is well positioned to add intermittent renewables, such as wind and solar, to the electricity grid as its integrated, flexible system of hydroelectric dams act as batteries. The reservoirs store water and allow BC Hydro to ramp production up or down almost instantly, providing a reliable backup when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. The cost of wind and solar, and the time needed to construct new facilities has dropped in recent years.

“I’m proud and excited to work alongside First Nations, independent power producers and stakeholders, and government to design and launch BC Hydro’s first call for power in 15 years,” said Chris O’Riley, president and CEO, BC Hydro.

“Our hydroelectric system of big dams and reservoirs provides a reliable and flexible power base over which we can layer new sources of renewable generation like wind and solar, expanding and diversifying our electricity system to meet growing demand while creating First Nations and business opportunities in the clean energy sector.”

BC Hydro engaged extensively with First Nations on the design of the call, including close collaboration with the First Nations Energy and Mining Council. Similar to recent calls for power by other jurisdictions (including Alberta and Saskatchewan), projects must have a minimum percentage of equity ownership held by First Nations.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank will make loans available as an option for First Nations to help finance as much as 90% of their equity position in a project that is awarded an electricity purchase agreement under the call for power.

This will be the first in a series of calls for power, as BC Hydro requires more power to electrify B.C.’s growing economy and meet the Province’s climate targets. BC Hydro expects its next call to be issued in 2026, with successive calls to be issued approximately every two years.

The volume and timing of future calls will be determined through BC Hydro’s long-term resource-planning process and subject to review by the BC Utilities Commission.

Separate from the call for power process, BC Hydro recently updated its 10-year capital plan (2024-25 to 2033-34). It provides for nearly $36 billion in investments by BC Hydro to maintain and strengthen B.C.’s electricity grid across the province.

This represents an increase of 50% over BC Hydro’s previous capital plan and includes new and upgraded transmission lines, substations and other equipment. These new constructions 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 Fact:

  • 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.

Learn More:

  • For more information about BC Hydro’s call for power, including the RFP document and schedules, a specimen electricity purchase agreement and an engagement summary, visit: https://www.bchydro.com/2024CallforPower

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