Electricity in British Columbia
Avg. price: 7.8¢/kWh (3rd-lowest among provinces)
2010 capacity: 15,093 MW
2020 forecast capacity: 18,694 MW
Peak use (2010): 9,847 MW
Cross-border trade: Imports 4,578 GWh (costs $71.6 million)
GHG intensity rank: 9th-highest
GHG emissions goal: 33% below 2007 levels by 2020
Green targets: by 2020, cut new demand by two-thirds via conservation
B.C.'s hydroelectricity-based grid is already one of the country's cleanest, and the province wants to keep it that way. To do so, it will have to wean itself from electricity imports, the vast majority of which come from Washington state's hydro-heavy mix, but some of which originate in coal-dependent Montana and gas-heavy Oregon.
Do you want to know how much you'll be paying for electricity in 2020? Try the provincial cost calculator.
To that end, B.C. has mostly turned over responsibility for new supplies to third parties, big and small. With two exceptions, every plant that has or will come online since 2005 — there are dozens — will be owned by the private sector. Companies like GE, AltaGas, Domtar and Innergex are developing thousands of megawatts of hydro, wind and biomass generation. BC Hydro's lone large plan is the controversial Site C dam near Fort St. John, which would add 900 MW of capacity starting in 2020.
The private-sector-centred power strategy has its critics. Their objections: BC Hydro could develop those same hydro sites at less cost than outside corporations, they say, because of its superior debt rating, which would keep financing costs and thus prices down. They also allege that if private firms control a large share of the province's electricity-generating natural resources and infrastructure, there's no guarantee those companies won't jack up their prices in 20 years once their power-purchase contracts with BC Hydro expire.