The B.C. government says it’s partnering with the province’s hydroelectricity utility to offer a lower rate for some industries and public transportation agencies with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation says BC Hydro will offer a 20 per cent discount to approved customers for five years, with a gradual transition back to the standard industrial rate by the eighth year.
It says the discounted rate would be available to “new clean industries” that are setting up or expanding operations, such as hydrogen or biofuels, as well as customers that can show they could have opted for fossil fuels instead of electricity to power their facilities.
“From the shock of a global pandemic to the threat of a changing climate, the challenges we face today also present opportunities as we build a brighter future after COVID-19,” said Premier John Horgan. “Today we are announcing plans to make it more affordable for industries to power up with clean B.C. electricity — helping spur new investment and job creation while reducing carbon pollution.”
The province notes that existing customers that install new equipment that uses electricity rather than fossil fuels may also be eligible for discounts.
The government says in a news release it’s also creating a new electrification fund to reduce the costs of connecting to the power grid and to support certain industrial customers upgrading their connections.
Energy Minister Bruce Ralston says in the statement fast-tracking electrification in B.C. will support the province’s economic recovery from the pandemic, attracting new investment and creating jobs.
“We’re making it easier and more affordable for mines, clean technology companies and other sectors to use more of B.C.’s clean, reliable hydroelectricity instead of fossil fuels,” said Ralston. “Fast-tracking electrification across our economy will support economic recovery and cleaner public transportation, create jobs for British Columbians and attract new investment to our province.”
The government says the costs of connecting to the grid must be competitive with other energy sources like natural gas, which is currently less expensive, and the latest measures will make it more economically viable for industries to opt for hydropower.
The province is using more than $84 million from its share of the federal government’s infrastructure investment program to set up the electrification fund.
The Province sees this move as making “generational investments” to create jobs, lower emissions, increase competitiveness, and make clean energy technology more accessible.
The new rate design has yet to be reviewed by the independent B.C. Utilities Commission, while the energy ministry says the province has “issued a direction” to the commission to ensure its “timely approval.”
The B.C. government says neighbourhood energy systems may also be eligible for the discounted rate in the future.
With files to the Canadian Press.