by Tom Hackney and Bill Andrews
21 October 2022
In an apparent hiccup in its long term plan to rid itself of gas-fired generation, BC Hydro seeks BCUC approval of a 4.5 year renewal of Hydro’s electricity purchase agreement (EPA) with the Island Generation gas fired plant in Campbell River.
Owned by Capital Power, Island Generation is a 275 megawatt combined cycle gas turbine. It was built as a baseload facility in 1999. But recently it has been used by BC Hydro “on an infrequent basis” as a dispatchable facility to meet Hydro’s system loads and take advantage of market opportunities to export power.
Two of BC Hydro’s largest sources of GHG emissions are gas-fired independent power producer facilities: Island Generation and McMahon (in the Peace region). In its 2021 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), BC Hydro says it does not plan to renew its EPAs with these facilities. The McMahon EPA expires in 2030. The Island Generation EPA expired earlier this year.
However, BC Hydro negotiated a short-term renewal of the EPA for Island Generation and applied to the BC Utilities Commission for approval in July. The purpose of the renewed EPA is to provide back-up capacity and supply over the next two to four years while BC Hydro makes repairs damage to some of the components of the northern set of submarine transmission cables that link the Mainland with Vancouver Island.
The July 2021 heat dome in BC damaged the termination points of the submarine cables. Immediate repairs have been completed. However, testing and further repairs may take several years to complete. During this period, Hydro wants Island Generation to be available for backup power in case the submarine cables are forced out of service. BC Hydro says it won’t need Island Generation after that.
BCSEA is monitoring the BCUC’s review of BC Hydro’s application for approval of the renewed EPA for power from Island Generation. BCSEA would likely intervene if a hearing is ordered. The short-term extension may reasonable given the unusual circumstances. However, BCSEA strongly supports BC Hydro’s plans to stop buying gas-fired generation.
Meanwhile, it is ironic that the 2021 BC Heat Dome, which many see as a manifestation of climate change caused by GHG emissions, has delayed the shut-down of Island Generation and termination of its GHG emissions.
 BC Hydro application for Island Generation Electricity Purchase Agreement Renewal (https://docs.bcuc.com/Documents/Proceedings/2022/DOC_67405_B-1-BCH-Island-Generation-EPA-Renewal-Public.pdf).
 BC Hydro 2021 Integrated Resource Plan, Appendix D of Hydro’s 2021 IRP Application, pdf 676 (https://docs.bcuc.com/Documents/Proceedings/2021/DOC_65194_B-1-BCH-IntegratedResourcePlan-Public.pdf).
 Island Generation EPA application, pages 1-3.
 Island Generation EPA application, pages 7-8.