Photo: B.C. Hydro officials talking with the general public regarding the IRP/ Sean Assor,


On Thursday evening, B.C. Hydro held a public consultation meeting in Fort St. John regarding its 2011 Integrated Resource Plan.

The consultation meeting was open to the general public, who got a detailed description of B.C Hydro’s future plans for energy consumption and conservation. The plan, known as the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) is a long term plan designed by B.C. Hydro to acquire the necessary resources to meet the needs of its customers for the next 20 years.

The power authority outlined three important guidelines it would use when considering how to meet the province’s electricity needs for the next two decades. The guidelines summarized how much electricity the province needs over that time period, what the gap is between the existing supply and future electricity demands and how the province can close that gap.

B.C. Hydro representatives pointed out that the amount of energy required depends on a variety of trends, such as economic and population growth. They also factored in predictions on how electricity use will change as a result of lifestyle changes, electricity rates, legislation and technology.

When assessing future supply and demand, B.C. Hydro officials say they must assess how much electricity can be produced and be relied upon from the company’s current generating facilities, existing contracts with power producers and current conservation plan.

B.C. Hydro says its planners will examine possible new sources of electricity or resource options when considering how to close the gap between current and future electricity demand.

B.C. Hydro officials suggested that builders begin considering conservation measures when constructing new homes, which would effectively decrease power demands.

It says the IRP is designed to look at additional options regarding power conservation and efficiency and, in addition, how it will be able to deliver the required power to its customers.

The IRP is also intended to help outline uncertainties regarding the future use of electricity, such as higher than expected demands.

At the meeting, B.C. Hydro asked residents to fill out a response form that it will use when reviewing the IRP.

The feedback form included topics on conservation and energy, electricity generating options, electrification (switching from other fuel sources to electricity) and the export market potential. Feedback regarding these issues will be examined, as B.C. Hydro develops the second draft of the IRP.

Residents were encouraged to ask questions at the meeting. The most prevalent questions were in regards to energy consumption. Specifically, residents brought up options about solar paneling.

The public also brought up the proposed Site C dam, expressing their displeasure with the project. Residents requested that B.C. Hydro determine other options to generate the same amount of power that Site C would.

B.C. Hydro officials are holding public consultation sessions in 12 areas across the province and say they taking the public’s opinions into account when devloping the second draft of the IRP.