Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Green Energy Taskforce Report

I have to say underwhelmed is the best I can muster for the Green Energy Taskforce Report.   They had a mandate to provide recommendations on all aspects of green energy production in BC and they produced a document that is more platitudes and motherhood statements than any sort of detailed recommendations.

Here is one of the recommendations:

2. Increase Clean Electricity Demand in B.C.
Growing a low-carbon economy means attracting new investment to B.C. that can be supplied by B.C.’s clean electricity. Clean technology industries, like data centers, could be incented to locate in B.C. to take advantage of data networks.
Recommendation 4: Bring the load/business/jobs to the electrons–actively recruit and attract new low-carbon industry (such as server farms for the Interior).

Where does one start with this?   First of all the recommendation is "Increase Clean Electricity Demand in BC" and not attract greener industries.   The two parts do not connect.   The only way to increase the demand for clean electricity is to remove the BC Hydro monopoly of sales of power so that consumers can choose where they get the power from.    The short paragraph and recommendation there make no sense in the context of green energy.  They do not say who should attract these business to locate in the interior BC or the other impediments to being there.

There are very few clear concrete recommendations within the taskforce report.  A number of the ones verging on having a clear direction are things that are already going on.

 Here is a list of the somewhat more clear recommendations I could find are:

  • Complete Revelstoke and Mica dam capacity for power generation
  • Move forward on Site C and Site E
  • Move procurement, generation operations, and export outside of BCUC regulation.
  • Develop a Lowe Carbon Transition Plan (though dates for when)
  • By September 30, 2010, and using existing data and information layers, develop a renewable energy zoning map for the Province that identifies where development of renewable energy and transmission is appropriate and inappropriate.
  • Direct BC Hydro to amend bioenergy electricity purchase agreements (EPAs) to transfer the biomass fuel price risk through to BC Hydro so that if biomass fuel prices increase, BC Hydro will correspondingly adjust the purchase price of electricity. (I do not like this one)
  • Establish a B.C.-owned Biomass Fuel Aggregator to access and aggregate woody biomass from provincial forest land, and supply fuel to bioenergy project developers.
  • Increase the Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund from $25 million to $50 million with a commitment to review funding levels every two years. Restructure the ICE Fund with an expanded team of investment professionals and consider moving it outside of government as a separate, stand-alone organization.
  • Implement a royalty credit and/or tax credit program to provide the necessary incentives to industry to use clean energy technologies at remote installations in B.C., such as mining, natural gas operations and communities.
  • The Province should develop a regional green energy planning process
  • The Province should expand the current revenue sharing model to include the sharing of revenue collected by the Province with First Nations on all types of green energy.

Even this list find is full of statements that are really not offering much.   What I was looking for was something with a lot more specifics.   I was looking for detailed background on each recommendation including deadlines and how the recommendation should be implemented.  All in all, the report is short enough on details that it could be used to justify almost any action in relation to green energy in BC.

There are other recommendations that many will say have specific actions for government, but I would argue they are too vague or they are not realistic in BC.

The submission I made to the taskforce had some very specific recommendations with details of what should be achieved and by when.  It also contained a lot more details with respect to scope and scale of power production now and in the future, prices for power here and elsewhere, specific issues with the grid, and where new green power could accessed without building any significant infrastructure.   I am only one person and working on that on the side of my desk.  They taskfroce report does not impress me.

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