Energy Solutions for Vancouver Island

“Smart” power meters eyed for all homes

Plan released today looks to conservation, technology, maybe a new hydro dam
B.C.’s energy plan calls for half of new power needs to be met through conservation.

Times Colonist, Feb 28, 2007, front page headline
by: Darren Stone, Times Colonist

British Columbians could see new “smart meters” in their homes within the next decade and possibly even construction of a new Site C dam on the Peace River, as a result of the B.C. Energy Plan unveiled Tuesday.

Energy Minister Richard Neufeld’s strategy calls for B.C. Hydro to meet 50 per cent of the province’s new power needs through conservation measures by 2020.

Hydro President Bob Elton said this will mean the use of new meter technology now being piloted in 2,000 homes that can tell consumers how and when they’re using power and allow them to be rewarded for reducing consumption during peak periods.

Other means to encourage conservation will include a new provincial building code that will lead to more energy efficient construction to be implemented for all buildings in B.C. by 2010.

The plan also calls for B.C. Hydro and the provincial government to “enter into initial discussions” with First Nations, Alberta and communities which could be affected should the controversial Site C dam project near Hudson Hope eventually proceed.

“This plan sets the foundation for energy leadership in the province,’’ Neufeld said at a press conference in Victoria.

“This plan takes the province into the future, with made-in-B.C. solutions and ensures we have a secure, reliable supply of energy at affordable rates produced in an environmentally responsible way.’’

B.C. Hydro president Bob Elton said the province now consumes about 55,000 gigawatt hours a year. That electricity demand is projected to rise by 30 gigawatt hours over the next 20 years.

“The goal is, instead of [consumption] going up from 55,000 to 85,000, can you go up from 55,000 to 70,000?,’’ Elton said. “In other words, can you get half of that through conservation?’’

Elton said construction of Site C is important “but not vital” to the energy goals set out by the plan.

He said British Columbians have become more aware of global warming and the fact that the province is now a net importer of electricity.

“Part of it is actually just thinking about it,’’ he said of the ambitious new conservation goals. “We have a province where people have never had to worry about electricity. You just turn it on and it comes on.

“People are starting to think: ‘What can I do?’ Each of us can reduce our consumption by 10 per cent, just by deciding to do it.’’

The energy plan also calls for:

* All new electricity projects developed in B.C. to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions

* Zero greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired electricity generation

* Clean or renewable electricity generation to continue to account for at least 90 per cent of total generation

* The province to be electricity self-sufficient by 2016

* B.C. Hydro to establish a standing-offer program to allow independent producers to sell up to 10 megawatts of power to Hydro for a set purchase price without having to go through a complicated tendering process.

Neufeld said the plan sets aggressive targets for conservation, while allowing the B.C. economy to remain competitive.

“It will put B.C. at the forefront of environmental and economic leadership across North America,’’ he said.

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