Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Time to Treat the Electrical Grid like the Highways

We operate our highways as a public good for everyone, general public and business, as an engine of the economy. Our grid meanwhile is not operated in the same manner.

The division of BC Hydro into the BC Transmission Corporation and a new BC Hydro that deals with power generation and distribution to customers is an important move forward, but the mandate of the BCTC is not open enough to allow them to be the economic engine it could be for the province.

Businesses are not allowed to develop power in BC and use the grid to sell it to customers. If you develop power you have to either sell it to BC Hydro or you have to build your own separate transmission line. Businesses are not allowed to access the BCTC transmission network to move their power to an end user.

There is a division between BC Hydro and BCTC but the relationship between the two is very, very close. BC Hydro still looks after the transmission lines for BCTC. The roles of the two companies are very much intertwined.

What we need to see in BC is a BCTC that treats all producers of power the same and does not work hand in glove with one large entity. Ideally we also need to allow people to buy their power from whom they like, if I want to buy power from a private company, why should I not be allowed to do that?

If we were to make the separation between BCTC and BCHydro much bigger and allowed access to the grid for the supply of power to whomever, there would be a lot more interest in small scale green power production in rural BC. The scale of the small green power plants will lead to regular and ongoing construction, operation and maintenance work in small rural communities across the province.

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