BC Hydro’s new capital plan lays the groundwork for zero carbon buildings across the province

Published on January 18, 2024

New investments in electricity infrastructure will enable critical transition off fossil fuels to all-electric future

Earlier this week, B.C. Premier David Eby, Environment and Climate Change Minister George Heyman, and Minister for Energy Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Josie Osborne announced a $36 billion investment in BC Hydro to strengthen the province’s electricity system over the next decade, paving the way for more zero carbon buildings across the province.

The announcement on Tuesday highlighted major infrastructure investments in high voltage transmission lines, electrical substations and electricity generation stations, and is intended to prepare B.C. for an increase in electricity demand over the coming years.

This capital investment comes as over two dozen municipalities across the province have passed bylaws encouraging or requiring electric heat pumps in new construction through the Zero Carbon Step Code and as sales of electric vehicles continue to grow.

“Yesterday’s announcement will ensure that we have enough electricity for all homes across the province to transition off fossil gas and instead connect to clean, reliable and affordable energy,” said Sunil Singal, Climate Campaigner at Stand.earth. “Despite what FortisBC’s fear-mongering would have you believe, our electricity grid is incredibly robust and BC Hydro’s new capital investments show that our province is preparing for an all-electric future.”

BC Hydro’s Integrated Resource Plan indicates that the province currently has surplus electricity and energy capacity beyond 2030, so this capital investment is targeted at future demand increases (electricity demand is projected to rise by 15% by 2030). Last week, BC Hydro reported managing a record-breaking demand for electricity due to province-wide cold temperatures without needing to activate emergency backup energy systems.

Polling consistently shows that a majority of British Columbians want to see the government invest in renewable energy rather than fossil fuels like LNG.

“Together with a recent Call for Clean Power, this investment is a big step towards making B.C. ready for the future. More of these announcements are exactly what we need to meet our CleanBC targets and give our kids a liveable climate,” said Liz McDowell, Senior Campaigns Director at Stand.earth. “Going forward, we’ll be watching to ensure that new electricity is used to power the transition to a more sustainable economy rather than new fracking wells and LNG projects. New sources of electricity must also be genuinely climate-friendly and job-creating – such as wind and solar – rather than some of the dangerous distractions the B.C. government has touted in the past, like biomass from logged trees.”

Stand.earth has been supporting municipal government leaders across Canada through its SAFE (Stand Against Fossil Fuel Expansion) Cities initiative. The campaign facilitates a network of North American local government leaders who share policies, experience, knowledge, and resources to accelerate municipal efforts toward phasing out fossil fuels and fast-tracking clean energy.