A growing role for electricity in Montney Shale natural gas development and exports, generated by British Columbia’s (BC) government-owned BC Hydro, will be promoted by federal, and power company planners in a new partnership.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and BC Premier John Horgan announced the creation of the Canada-BC Clean Power Planning Committee whose mandate emphasizes electricity as an environmental power source for natural gas activity.

Trudeau described the new planning partnership as “helping make the province a supplier of the cleanest natural gas in the world.”

Added Horgan, “We are taking an important step forward to build a more sustainable economy and protect our environment.”

The governments and BC Hydro plan to examine electrification projects worth an estimated C$680 million ($510 million), a list of which was not disclosed.

The provincial power company already has a role in northern shale production and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export development as a supplier for the Royal Dutch Shell plc-led LNG Canada export project now underway, along with the companion Coastal GasLink pipeline, which would move gas from the Montney region.

Construction also is underway for the C$10.7 billion ($8 billion) Peace River dam called Site C near the northern BC gas industry capital, Fort St. John.

Also in the Montney, BC Hydro recently completed a C$300 million ($225 million) transmission line and plans a second one for a forecast C$285 million ($213 million).

As the prime minister and premier made their announcement, prolonged native and environmental opposition escalated against northern industrialization with gas and electricity production and transmission.

Talks aimed at settling a protest lawsuit, against the Site C dam by West Moberly First Nations, broke down. A trial is scheduled for March 2022, when the project will still be under construction. The new reservoir would flood 55 square kilometers (22 square miles) of the Peace River Valley.