March 19, 2007

New BC energy plan sets ambitious targets for zero GHG emissions, conservation

British Columbia's new energy plan, recently introduced by Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Richard Neufeld, sets ambitious targets for achieving zero net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and meeting 50% of BC Hydro's incremental resource needs through conservation by 2020. The plan, titled "A Vision for Clean Energy Leadership," encompasses a total of 55 policy actions and calls for major new investments in innovation.

"The Province will require zero net greenhouse gas emissions from all new electricity projects and support the development of clean energy technology," said Neufeld, adding, "This plan balances the economic opportunities available from our wide range of natural resources while leading the world in sustainable environmental management."

Environmental Leadership:

* All new electricity projects developed in BC will have zero net GHG emissions.

* Existing thermal generation power plants will reach zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2016.

* Coal-fired power plants will be required to meet a target of zero GHG emissions.

* Clean or renewable electricity generation will continue to account for at least 90% of total generation. (Sources include large and small hydroelectric, solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, wood residue and energy from organic municipal waste.)

* The Ministry of Energy will establish policies and measures to reduce air emissions, in co-ordination with the Ministry of Environment.

* No nuclear power will be developed.

* All routine flaring at oil and gas producing wells and production facilities is to be eliminated by 2016, with an interim goal to reduce flaring by half by 2011.

* BC will maintain the best coalbed gas practices in North America. Companies will not be allowed to surface discharge produced water, and any re-injected produced water must be injected well below any domestic water aquifer.

* Government will explore new technologies for safe underground disposal or sequestration of carbon dioxide from oil and gas facilities.

* A 5% average renewable fuel standard for diesel will be put in place by 2010 to help reduce emissions and advance the domestic renewable fuel industry. (As a related measure, the plan will support the federal action of increasing the ethanol content of gasoline to 5%f by 2010.)

* The province's Oil and Gas Environmental Stewardship Program will be enhanced to ensure sound environmental, land and resource management.

Energy Conservation and Efficiency:

* BC Hydro will acquire 50% of its incremental resource needs through conservation by 2020.

* An industrial energy efficiency program will be developed to address specific challenges faced by the province's industrial sector.

* Utilities will be encouraged to design rates to encourage efficiency, conservation and renewable energy development.

* New, cost-effective energy efficiency standards will be set and brought into effect for new buildings by 2010. (As a lead-up to this, the plan calls for a pilot project for energy performance labeling of homes and buildings, to be conducted in co-ordination with local and federal governments, First Nations and industry associations. New provincial public sector buildings will be built to meet the highest standards for greenhouse gas emission reductions, water conservation and other building performance results such as a certified standard.)

Investing in Innovation:

* The new $25-million Innovative Clean Energy Fund will encourage the development of clean energy and energy-efficient technologies in the electricity, alternative energy, transportation and oil and gas sectors. The fund will support projects that address energy and environmental problems specific to BC, as determined by the government.

* The new BC Bioenergy Strategy will take advantage of BC's abundant sources of renewable energy, such as beetle-killed timber, wood wastes and agricultural residues.

* The plan will also support cross-government initiatives that support transportation demand management, reducing traffic congestion and better integrating land use and transportation planning. Key initiatives include: extending the tax break on hybrid vehicle purchases to March 2011; purchasing only hybrid passenger vehicles for the government fleet; and adopting California's tailpipe emission standards for GHG emissions.

The BC Energy Plan: A Vision for Clean Energy Leadership may be viewed on-line at

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