This morning, in a short ceremony in Vancouver, I signed a memorandum of understanding with The Honorable Bill Bennett, the Minister of Energy and Mines, and Jessica McDonald, the CEO of BC Hydro. I was there, of course, on behalf of our member companies—the many firms that reliably, responsibly, and affordably produce clean power for our homes and economy.
The three of us—the clean power sector, the utility, and the government—have worked together for decades. And like any long-term relationship, at times things have been a bit bumpy. We didn’t always see eye to eye, and didn’t always air our issues in a productive manner.
Today’s Memorandum of Understanding puts those days behind us. It opens up clear channels of communication between the three of us, so that we can identify snags, resolve concerns, boost investor certainty, and strengthen our partnership.
I personally think of it as a “reaffirmation of vows,” one that sets our industry on a path for a strong future.
We have a solid track record to build on. British Columbia’s clean power producers currently keep the lights on in 1.5 million homes across the province—a 16 percent increase over 2014. Just over 100 hydro and biomass plants, wind farms, and other facilities are at this moment charging our smartphones, illuminating our soccer fields, and running our factories, ports, and more.
Within the past three years, clean power producers have invested an impressive $4 billion in British Columbia, yielding 2,850 construction jobs. Over the life of power agreements signed to date, Aboriginal governments will receive more than $800 million in income.
In the years ahead, as the government puts policy in place to meet its climate change commitments and begins the hard work of decarbonizing the economy, our members will be ready to help.
If we’re going to repower almost everything under the sun with water, wind, solar, and biomass, then we’re going to need to harvest a whole lot more clean electrons from those sources.
Fortunately, we not only have an abundance of renewable resources in British Columbia, we also have an industry that knows how to responsibly, reliably, and affordably harvest them. And after today’s agreement, we have all the pieces and the process in place to begin this important work.
We’re looking forward to contributing to making this province a better place, with cleaner air, clearer skies, a robust grid, a resilient economy, and an even stronger global reputation as a climate leader.
On Nov 1-4th at the Hyatt Regency here in Vancouver, the clean energy sector will convene at CEBC’s annual conference, Generate, to “think bigger” about how we as a sector can continue to help government and BC Hydro meet their mandates, combat the effects of climate change, all the while keeping rates low and reliable. I hope to see you there.
-Paul Kariya, Executive Director, Clean Energy BC