Electricity System: Generation, transmission and most distribution electricity capacity in BC is owned and operated by provincially owned utility BC Hydro. Fortis BC distributes power in the Kootenay/Okanagan region.
Much of the province’s power already comes from renewable sources (hydro-electricity). At the same time, pockets of high cost fossil fuel supply exist, while other forms of renewable power are effectively shut out of the market.
The British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources announced its intention to introduce a Feed-In Tariff Regulation under Section 16 of the 2009 Clean Energy Act to support fulfillment of British Columbia’s Energy Objectives. A Consultation Paper was produced in 2010 and proposed a very limited FIT program:
- The FIT should not be used as a general power procurement tool
- Annual expenditures should be limited to $25 million limit above the cost of acquiring the power through BC’s existing Standing Offer Program
- Size should be limited to 5 MW and the FIT contract to 5 years
- The FIT should be only for on-grid to biomass, biogas, geothermal, instream hydrokinetic, and ocean energy.
- Off-grid solar or wind might be included.
The BC Sustainable Energy Association input to the consultation paper noted that the opportunities for renewable power development will be severly restricted by the 5-year contract limit and will not give developers sufficient time to make a return on their investment. BCSEA also notes that the 5 MW limit may rule out geothermal developments. Limiting solar and wind to off-grid applications means they would have to compete in the Standing Offer Program.
As of January 2012, BC has not introduced a feed-in tariff.
For more on renewable energy issues in Canada visit the Canadian Renewable Energy Alliance.