Echoing what many states in the West are establishing as energy and environmental goals, British Columbia Wednesday unveiled a provincial energy plan seeking zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and acquiring at least half of incremental power supplies through conservation programs. "BC Energy Plan: A Vision for Clean Energy Leadership" is designed to make the westernmost Canadian province a leader in developing clean energy.

Although focused on power generation, parts of the plan also deal with oil and natural gas production and development, with the proposed elimination of all flaring at production facilities by 2016, and an interim goal to reduce oil/gas flaring by 50% by 2011. BC will establish "the best coalbed gas practices in North America," according to the plan.

An underlying long-term goal of the plan is to make the always independent-minded Canadian province totally energy independent over the next 20 years. It seeks to create "made-in-BC" energy solutions. (Separately, on Thursday San Francisco-based U.S. utility giant Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said it expects to get regulatory approval to spend several million dollars to study the viability of obtaining wind-generated power supplies long term from British Columbia developers.)

Richard Neufeld, BC's energy, mines and petroleum resources minister, said the BC plan also provides new means of improving the province's energy security, including entering into initial discussions around a potential large hydroelectric project called "Site-C" with neighboring Alberta province.

"[BC] will require zero net GHG emissions from all new electricity projects and support the development of clean energy technology," Neufeld said. "This plan balances the economic opportunities available from our wide range of natural resources while leading the world in sustainable environmental management."

The plan's 55 policy actions are described by the energy minister as focusing on the province's "key natural strengths and competitive advantages," divided into four areas: (1) environmental leadership, (2) energy conservation/efficiency programs, (3) energy security, and (4) innovation investments, including the establishment of a $25 million Innovative Clean Energy Fund and a new BC Bioenergy Strategy.

"The ongoing public ownership of BC Hydro and BC Transmission Corp. will ensure British Columbians continue to enjoy low-cost power for years to come," Neufeld said.

More information and a copy of the BC Energy Plan can be found on its website www.energyplan.gov.bc.ca.

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