Renewable energy generation in BC is already a success story. Clean energy employs 14,000 people throughout the province, and 93% of the power we generate is from renewable sources like hydro. At the same time, we’re seeing an increase in the efficiency of renewable energy technology combined with dropping costs. We have a real opportunity to become a clean energy powerhouse.
Unfortunately, we’ve limited the ability of BC Hydro to research, pilot or develop energy projects like solar, wind, biomass or geothermal. These small-scale renewable energy projects spread out the economic and employment benefits across BC, can have a lower impact on ecosystems, and are economically less risky than megaprojects. But to build them right, we need to have a bigger picture overview of the needs, risks and options. BC Hydro can develop a long-term renewable energy plan that balances need against risk. We need to reform the Clean Energy Act to allow BC Hydro to build the energy projects of tomorrow.
We also need to invest in energy efficiency and conservation, and generate power at the level of communities, business, and households. Homes and businesses that self-generate can cut their energy use, provide additional power to the overall system, and create a more resilient power system. The use of subsidies, financing programs or grants can encourage these micro-level projects. British Columbia’s communities should also be allowed easier entry into generating power.
For example, the City of Nelson has an innovative solar garden project where citizens buy its power for 25 years, receiving credits that will balance and eventually reduce their hydro bills. With a simple system of incentives and simplified regulations for communities, we could see even more innovative, renewable generation driven by people in their communities.