“Clean” Energy Act Muzzles Utilities Watchdog: News Round Up

April 29, 2010

Cabinet’s naked power play emasculates Hydro’s watchdog;
B.C. Liberals seize control of all major decisions about projects and pricing

Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun:

-Portrait of a power grab.

Premier Gordon Campbell and his B.C. Liberals came into office in 2001 promising to restore regulation of electricity rates in B.C. by a fully independent B.C. Utilities Commission.

Arm’s length relationship. No more “playing politics” with rates, projects and electricity needs from the cabinet room.

The commission would determine the province’s electricity needs and set rates accordingly in open public hearings where BC Hydro would have to defend its plans against well-informed interest groups.

But virtually all of that independent arm’s-length scrutiny would be swept aside with passage of the proposed Clean Energy Act, tabled Wednesday in the provincial legislature.

Read the full story here…

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The Clean Energy Act – Adding Insult to Injury
Marvin Shaffer, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

I don’t follow the provincial legislature closely enough to judge whether the proposed Clean Energy Act is the worst legislation the Liberals have introduced since first being elected, but it has to be a front runner.

The first objective listed in the Act is the government’s misdirected requirement for BC Hydro to be self-sufficient, with all of the needless cost and environmental impact that entails. Under self-sufficiency as defined in the Act, BC Hydro must assume it cannot buy any power from the well-established spot markets in Alberta or the US northwest even in extreme drought conditions. It must assume that the province won’t allow it to use any of the downstream power benefits the province receives each year under the Columbia Power Treaty, again, even in extreme drought conditions. It must pretend that the Burrard Thermal plant does not exist as a back up for low water conditions, even though that plant must be maintained to ensure voltage stability and meet peak requirements in the Lower Mainland. And now, adding insult to expensive injury, the new Act arbitrarily adds 3000 GWh (an amount equal to two-thirds the total output of Site C) to the self-sufficiency requirement starting in 2020.

Read the full story here…

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What Voters Weren’t Told about Clean Energy Act
Better to call it the ‘Flood Valleys for Power for Export Act’; Transform BC Hydro so Californians can blast air conditioners.

David Schreck, TheTyee.ca

The next time you hear the Campbell government call something “green,” know that means the colour of U.S. currency, rather than meaning environmentally friendly. With the introduction of Bill 17 (2010), the Clean Energy Act, (a more appropriate name would be the Flood Valleys for Power for Export Act) the Campbell government finally came clean with its plans.

For decades British Columbia rejected the development of power for export. The province participates in, and makes a lot of money, from the electrical market, but it does that by importing when power is cheap and exporting when it is expensive. The storage capacity of B.C.’s dams makes that electrical trade possible. Until the Campbell government encouraged the run-of-river projects, generating capacity was not developed in excess of BC Hydro’s projected provincial demand.

Read the full story here…

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B.C. unveils clean energy act: Province bypasses energy watchdog for most new projects; insists plan will boost investment in lucrative sector, protect low rates for consumers
Justine Hunter, Globe and Mail

The British Columbia government has sidelined its independent energy regulator in a bid to shape the province’s green electricity future.

The new Clean Energy Act introduced Wednesday yesterday is designed to boost investment in a lucrative sector that can bring billions of dollars into the province, while protecting low rates for British Columbians – at least for now.

To ensure the government’s agenda is not waylaid by the B.C. Utilities Commission, the law exempts most new projects, plans and programs from the watchdog’s control, leaving it to provide oversight on domestic electricity rates.

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A Channel: