Legal Considerations in Structuring Renewable Energy Projects: A Multidisciplinary Approach


The British Columbia Opportunity

British Columbia’s 2007 Energy Plan’s stated intention is to provide direction in the area of secure energy supply in the face of the Province’s growth in demand, leadership in environmentally responsible generation & conservation, and the development of innovative technologies in support. The 2007 plan contains 55 policy actions organized under the following four headings: environmental leadership, energy conservation and efficiency, energy security, and investing in innovation.

Two key commitments set out in the Energy Plan sets the stage for the large opportunity to the independent power producer (“IPP”) sector in developing green energy projects: that the Province will be ‘self-sufficient’ in electricity by 2016 and will have an extra amount of “insurance” energy and capacity by 2026, and the commitment that clean or renewable electricity generation will continue to account for at least 90% of BC’s total electricity generation.

Energy Plan did not define ‘self-sufficiency’ but later did in Special Direction No. 10 to the British Columbia Utilities Commission (“BCUC”). The Direction states that by 2016 BC Hydro must be able to meet its mid-level load forecast of energy and capacity, from generation sources located within BC assuming the hydro facilities are producing at a level they would be if it was one of the lowest water years on record. BC Hydro in July 2007 estimated that the amount of new domestic supply needed to meet this definition of ‘self-sufficiency’ meant that (after taking into consideration conservation measures)

approximately 20,000 GWh of new energy, and 2,300 MW of additional capacity will have to be constructed and in place by 2026.

When you couple the requirements for new generation and capacity in the next 20 years with the commitment that 90% of this new generation and capacity must come from clean or renewable electricity generation, the opportunities for IPP’s are significant.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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