British Columbia

BC Hydro Power Smart

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Program Summary:

BC Hydro is a regulated electric utility owned by the Province of British Columbia that operates as a commercial entity. It serves 1.85 million customers representing 95% of B.C.’s population. While BC Hydro has had energy efficiency programs since 1989, its current resource acquisition focus began in 2003. Its generation fleet is predominately hydroelectric and it has committed to providing 90% of its power through clean and renewable generation. It has also committed to meet at least 50% of load growth through the acquisition of energy efficiency resources.

The industrial sector represents about 30% of BC’s load, which it serves with an innovated rate structure that prices a customer’s marginal consumption higher than its recent historic baseline. To assist these customers minimize energy use, it has spent $15-25 million per year providing general awareness, education, technology demonstrations, energy assessments, energy management system training, and direct financial incentives. Cumulative savings of 2.4 TWh over four years from the recent Power Smart 3 represent 4.6% of total electric demand for the service territory.

Program information

Program Type:
Resource Acquisition
Target Group - Size:
Any Size
Target Group - Industry Focus:
Cross Sectoral
Target Group - Description:

The share of large industry fell to around 26% of BC Hydro’s sales in the province during fiscal years 2010-2011 from the 31-32% level of 2005-6, industrial demand is expected to pick up in the future with new project development.

in operation
GHG emission source covered:

BC Hydro has committed to meet at least 50% of load growth through the acquisition of energy efficiency resources. (*1)

Program Funding Source:

Built into consumer electric rates (*2)

Total Program Funding:

C$134.8 million (2010) (*3)

Implementation details

Operating Mechanism:

BC Hydro is a commercial Crown Corporation owned by the Province of British Columbia that operates as a commercial entity separate from the Provincial Government. It reports to the government, its sole shareholder, through its Responsible Minister, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. BC Hydro receives government shareholder policy guidance through the Ministry of Energy Mines. Guidance is articulated in the Province’s energy plans and legislation, including the 2007 BC Energy Plan and the 2010 BC Clean Energy Act, which called for energy efficiency acquisition to account for 66% of new power obtained by 2020. The Ministry also issues Shareholder’s Letters of Expectations.

BC Hydro also is regulated as a public utility by the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC), who is charged with government authority to ensure that BC Hydro customers receive safe, reliable and non-discriminatory energy services at fair rates. BCUC is also responsible for ensuring that utility shareholders earn a fair return on their invested capital. BCUC regulates BC Hydro’s electricity tariffs considering overall revenues, expenditures, and rates of return needs, balanced against needs to keep prices as competitive and least burdensome as possible. It also approves BC Hydro’s regular service plans, including plans to acquire electricity resources from new generation, conservation and wholesale power purchases. In a 2008 Amendment to the Utilities Commission Act, BCUC also is required to consider needs to meet provincial greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals and to pursue energy conservation and efficiency, and other clean energy concerns.

BC Hydro develops detailed targets for acquisition in long-term plans that are subject to BCUC review and approval. The costs of operating BC Hydro’s efficiency resource acquisition efforts are included in BC Hydro’s overall resource acquisition and operating budget which is also approved by BCUC. All resource acquisition costs are built into the rate structure.

BC Hydro conducts its own monitoring and verification of electricity savings from its various program investments, as well as evaluation of the overall electricity savings impacts of it programs. The results of both its monitoring and verification activities and its program evaluations are summarized and reported to BCUC

Energy Management System:
EnMS specification
BC Hydro's EnMS, known as "Sustainable Energy Management", is not based on an EnMS standard. BC Hydro offers funding for large customers to hire an on-site energy manager, along with other energy management tools, training and assessments.
Program Offerings for Industry:

BC Hydro’s industrial offerings are centered on their unique two-tiered "conservation rate" structure, which drives energy efficiency measures by increasing the price of the top 10% of electricity use (using a historic baseline). The other 90% of electricity is charged at a lower rate to keep the average cost the same (*4) (*5). Once available only to large customers receiving distribution-level voltage, the conservation rate is now available to medium-sized businesses (35-150 kW peak demand) as well.

To complement the conservation rate structure, BC Hydro offers its industrial customers several other initiatives:

  • Audits (high level, detailed, or focused on a specific end-use)
  • Feasibility studies
  • Financial incentives covering up to 75% of project cost
  • Energy Management training and on-line tools (*6)
  • Energy assessments
  • Training and educational workshops
  • Awareness events
  • Development of energy plans
  • Funding and support of technology demonstration projects
  • Support for implementation of energy efficiency codes and standards.
Supervising Entity:
British Columbia Utilities Commission
Implementing Entity:
British Columbia Hydro
Implementing Entity Type A:
Implementing Entity Type:
Public Utility
M&V requirements on industry:

Industrial and Commercial program measurement and verification procedures include

  • a technical review, including review both before and immediately after investment;
  • site inspection of a sample of projects to confirm project completion and operation as approved; and
  • measurement and verification on a sample of projects to quantify individual project savings through analysis of actual project operation and performance data.
Evaluation of Program:
Monthly energy savings and cost reports that compare actual with planned values are reported monthly to BC program management. Quarterly reports are submitted to the utility’s executives and Board of Directors. An annual report is submitted to the British Columbia Utilities Commission. Third parties are commissioned to conduct program evaluation studies to determine the overall effects of specific programs.

Program flow chart

Program Flow Chart

BC Hyrdo flowchart.png

Impacts and Results

2300 GWh, cumulative from 2008 (2011)
Analytic base for target (or target setting mechanism):

Savings are cumulative over all the years in the relevant program cycle. The concept can also be described as cumulative electricity savings capacity delivered and still effective by target year. It is important to note that BC Hydro needs to calculate the "persistence" of savings capacity created in previous years, based on the estimated lifetimes of the savings capacity created through the various main measures. If the lifetime of capacity has expired, it is subtracted from cumulative savings, as that capacity that had been created no longer persists. Thus cumulative energy savings (capacity) will be increasingly smaller than the sum of incremental savings (capacity) achieved each year as programs continue.

Savings (recent year):
2338 GWh, cumulative from 2008 (2011)
Savings (program total):
not reported
Savings (share of overall demand):
BC Hydro developed persistent electricity savings capacity over four years equal to about 4.6% of total electricity demand.
Average unit cost of energy saved:

The cost effectiveness of the program overall has been strong at 2 cents/kWh. The industrial program provided savings at 1.5 cents/kWh, including 1 cent per kWh for large customers receiving power at transmission voltage, where savings resulted from the energy conservation rate, enabling activities and certain incentives.

Non-energy benefits (co-benefits):

Data not reported

Other useful information


(*1) The 2008 Long Term Acquisition Plan (LTAP) calls for BC Hydro to meet 50% of new load through energy efficiency. A draft of the 2012 LTAP would increase this to 66%

(*2) BC Hydro F2012 to F2014 Amended Revenue Requirements Application (Revision 1, February 28, 2012), Appendix II--F2012-F2013 Demand-side Management Expenditures

(*3) Actual expenditures were 77% of planned expenditures, using annual DSM expenditure reports criteria, and 87% of planned expenditures using the somewhat narrower definitions of expenditures used in BC Hydro’s DSM Expenditure Schedules.

(*4) Before the energy conservation rate was introduced for residential customers in April 2009, all consumption was priced at 6.55 cents/kWh. The new rate included a price of 5.91 cents/kWh for  "Step 1” block consumption of up to 1350 KWh per 2-month billing cycle, and a price of 8.27 cents/kWh for "Step 2” consumption over 1,350 kWh per billing cycle. See BC Hydro's Electricity Conservation Report (2009) available on the BC Hydro website.

(*5) More information is provided in BC Hyrdo's " Transmission Service Rate Three-year Summary Report" (September 2009).

(*6) In 2012, Power Smart was supporting 60-75% of salary funding for 2 years for new energy managers, depending upon the level of enterprise program commitment, as well as funding for training, coaching, one-site energy management assessments, and other activities.