B.C. Unwraps Energy Plan

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

VANCOUVER - British Columbia's abundance of natural clean energy resources will provide for a soft landing from the provincial government's bold leap into a green future, experts said on Tuesday.

The energy plan unveiled by Energy Minister Richard Neufeld heaps equal responsibility for keeping the lights burning in B.C. on private-sector electricity producers, and the residents, industries and business operators who rely on the BC Hydro grid.

The plan calls for B.C. to use conservation to curtail half the estimated 30,000 gigawatt hours of new electricity demand that will emerge by 2020, and to meet the remainder of that new demand through development of a potentially wide array of green power enterprises.

Neufeld confirmed a commitment to make B.C. independent of electricity imports - and thus in a position to market surplus power at a profit to the United States - by 2016.

Neufeld's plan, several parts of which were presaged in the throne speech and provincial budget earlier this month, includes a $25-million annual levy on utility customers in support of clean-energy projects.

Those could include tidal, solar and geothermal power, Neufeld said at a press conference at Carmanah Technologies, a Victoria-based company that manufactures solar-powered LED lights.

Guy Dauncey, president of the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association, said there is ample reason for B.C. to embark immediately on more exotic forms of electricity generation, such as tidal power.

"The tidal industry is really ramping up worldwide. Britain is putting big money into it and so is the United States."