has one-quarter of the world's fresh water supply, one-third of which is located
in British Columbia. This has led to the development of an extensive hydroelectric
generation system. The availability of competitively priced electrical energy
continues to be a strong incentive for new energy-intensive industries to locate
is a commercial Crown corporation owned by the Province of British Columbia and
reporting to the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. The third
largest electric utility in Canada, BC Hydro provides reliable, low cost electricity
to 1.8 million customers and serves 94 per cent of the population of British Columbia.
Hydro endeavours to provide energy solutions to its customers in an environmentally
and socially responsible way by balancing British Columbians' energy needs with
the concerns of the environment. Through the efficient and reliable supply of
electricity, BC Hydro supports the development of British Columbia and has constructed
a world-class integrated hydroelectric system. Due to this efficient, reliable
system, British Columbians enjoy some of the lowest electricity rates in North
operates 30 hydroelectric facilities and three natural gas-fueled thermal power
plants. About 80% of the province's electricity is produced by major hydroelectric
generating stations on the Columbia and Peace rivers. BC Hydro generates between
43,000 and 54,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity annually, depending on prevailing
water levels. Electricity is delivered to customers through a network of over
18,000 kilometres of transmission lines and 57,000 kilometres of distribution
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average household in BC Hydro’s service area uses about 11,000 kWh per year. A
large industrial customer, such as a pulp mill, might use 400 GWh in a year, equal
to the consumption of 40,000 households. A typical large office building of 20–25
storeys might consume 5 GWh in a year, equal to the consumption of 500 households.
A large “big box” retail outlet might consume 3.5 GWh per year, or roughly the
equivalent of 350 households.
expect that their increasing electricity needs will be met in an environmentally-friendly
fashion. One of the key components in a prosperous economy is low-cost, reliable
electricity that does not unduly burden the environment.
Governments are implementing a growing number of environmental demands on the
sector, through legislative regimes and international commitments. In response
to these trends, the industry’s environmental performance continues to improve:
electricity intensity is declining, air emissions from fossil generation (coal,
oil and gas) are declining; waste and hazardous materials are being reduced, or
more effectively managed; and species and habitat management is a bigger and bigger
part of decision-making on new and existing projects.
Measuring and documenting this performance is often a challenge. To meet it, the
Canadian Electricity Association (CEA), representing a majority of the country’s
generation, transmission and distribution assets, has undertaken a number of initiatives.
CEA’s Environmental Commitment and Responsibility Program, its work on climate
change, mercury, and fisheries issues, and most recently its pilot studies on
measuring environmental performance1, are all examples.