In June 2020, the NDP government proposed Bill 17 to amend the Clean Energy Act (2010). The clean energy industry, First Nations and several municipalities were particularly alarmed at the proposed amendment to remove the self-sufficiency requirement, which restricted the amount of power BC Hydro can purchase on the Mid-C spot market. This change would allow British Columbia to become more heavily reliant on imported electricity rather than developing power along with the local economic development – jobs, business, and tax benefits – here in BC. Another issue is the proposed ability to vary the definition of ‘clean’ imported power, rather than being guided by a clear legislated standard. This could open BC to importing brown power from fossil-based sources like coal.
Removing self-sufficiency would be detrimental to local power producers which includes many First Nations that have invested significantly in renewable energy projects – either as sole owners or in partnership with clean energy companies. Bill 17 was presented in the BC Legislature during the summer session, the first reading can be viewed here. On July 28th 2020, the Green Party released this statement that they would not support Bill 17 without First Nations consultation and a stronger definition of clean electricity and clean resources.
Clean Energy BC quickly launched a community, First Nations and media awareness campaign to inform the public of the likely consequences of Bill 17. We plan to continue to inform the public and policymakers of the advantages of the clean energy industry as the best option for sourcing electricity for British Columbia.
A chronological overview of public debate on Bill 17 can be found here as news articles, radio and television interviews, press releases issued by First Nations, and op-eds:
- Business in Vancouver: BC power producers alarmed by plan to buy power from U.S. by Nelson Bennett, June 30th 2020
- First Nations Drum: Nuu-chah-nulth Calls on BC Legislature to Table Bill 17- Amendments to Clean Energy Act until First Nations Consent Given by The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, July 9th 2020
- The Globe and Mail: B.C.’s Indigenous power producers fear they’ll be short-circuited by Clean Energy Act changes by Brent Jang, July 11th 2020
- Windspeaker: Changes to Clean Energy Act will imperil Indigenous power producers—tribal council by Julie Chadwick, July 13th 2020
- Vancouver Sun: Weaver Takes Aim at NDP over B.C. Hydro by Vaughn Palmer, July 14th 2020
- First Nations Drum: The Tŝilhqot’in Nation Stands with Nuu-Chah-nulth and Other First Nations in BC in Calling on the NDP Government to Table Bill 17 by Tŝilhqot’in National Government, July 16th 2020
- Williams Lake Tribune: Tsilhqot’in Nation sounds alarm on proposed amendments to Clean Energy Act by Rebecca Dyok, July 29th 2020
- Fasken: BC Introduces New Legislation Amending the Clean Energy Act, July 23rd 2020
- Andrew Weaver MLA: Bill 17, Burrard Thermal, BC Hydro self sufficiency & clean electricity, July 24th 2020
- News1130: First Nations Leadership Council calling for a halt on changes to B.C.’s Clean Energy Act by Renee Bernard, July 26th 2020
- EnergiMedia: BC needs more private electricity, not less by Markham Hislop, July 27th 2020
- News1130: Clean Energy BC worries about future, as province abandons goal to be energy self-sufficient by Renee Bernard, July 29th 2020
- Vancouver Sun: Greens showing sign of ‘physically distancing’ from NDP by Vaughn Palmer, July 30th 2020
- The Narwhal: The clean energy bill that divided B.C.’s NDP and Greens: 11 things you need to know by Zoë Yunker, August 11th 2020