B.C. Hydro to offer 'clean' industries reduced rate as province aims to cut emissions

·2 min read

VICTORIA — 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.

The province says existing customers that install new equipment that uses electricity rather than fossil fuels may also be eligible.

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.

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 hydro power.

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 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, while downstream oil and gas sectors, such as refineries and natural gas liquefaction or LNG facilities, would not be eligible.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2021.

The Canadian Press