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Canada: New act powers British Columbia forward with clean energy and jobs

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British Columbia’s new Clean Energy Act sets the foundation for a new future of electricity self-sufficiency, job creation and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, powered by unprecedented investments in clean, renewable energy across the province. Bill 17 builds upon British Columbia’s unique heritage advantages and wealth of clean, renewable energy resources. The act advances 16 specific energy objectives by expediting clean energy investments, protecting B.C. ratepayers, ensuring competitive rates, encouraging conservation, strengthening environmental protection and aggressively promoting regional job creation and First Nations’ involvement in clean electricity development opportunities.
The new Clean Energy Act sets the foundation for three areas of priority:

1. Ensuring Electricity Self-Sufficiency at Low Rates
The act will strengthen B.C.’s legislated goal of electricity self-sufficiency by 2016 with a new regulatory framework for long-term electricity planning, bold commitments to clean and renewable electricity generation, streamlined approval processes, and new measures to promote electricity efficiency and conservation. It also strengthens protection for B.C. ratepayers with new measures to promote competitive rates and to ensure that all of the benefits from the province’s heritage assets continue to flow to British Columbians. These objectives will be accomplished through long-term planning; public investments and conservation; and new investments in clean, renewable power and energy security. The British Columbia Utilities Commission will continue to ensure appropriate rates are set in advancing government’s energy objectives and long-term resource plans.

2. Harnessing B.C.’s Clean Power Potential to Create Jobs in every Region
The act will provide BC Hydro and renewable power producers the tools necessary to establish British Columbia as a clean energy powerhouse that enables economic growth and job creation in every region. It will enable BC Hydro to maximize the value of its energy resources for ratepayers and taxpayers. It will provide a new model to secure long-term export power sales to other jurisdictions seeking clean power by partnering with renewable power producers without risk or cost to B.C. ratepayers.
The act also creates a First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund to provide the opportunity for First Nations to create investment and jobs in renewable power production.

3. Strengthening Environmental Stewardship and Reducing Greenhouse Gases
The act enshrines in law measures the Province will take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help customers save money through conservation and protect the environment.
The Environmental Assessment Act process will be strengthened to specifically provide for assessments of potential cumulative environmental effects. In addition, the development or proposal of energy projects in parks, protected areas and conservancies will be prohibited by law.

The Clean Energy Act builds on the work of the Green Energy Advisory Task Force, appointed in November 2009 to provide insights and recommendations on a comprehensive strategy to put B.C. at the forefront of clean energy development. A summary of the Task Force report can be found at http://www.gov.bc.ca/empr/index.htm.

For more information on the Clean Energy Act including a complete set of backgrounders and factsheets go to www.gov.bc.ca/cleanenergyact.

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