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Let’s ensure “we have enough skilled electrical workers” for new clean energy projects, says ECABC

June 15, 2023 | By Anthony Capkun

The demand for skilled electrical workers, including powerline technicians, is currently very high in the province.

June 15, 2023 – With electricity demand expected to increase by 15% between now and 2030, British Columbia’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low-Carbon Innovation announced the province’s electric utility will move forward with a call for new sources of renewable, emissions-free electricity, likely by Spring 2024.

“Today’s announcement is a promising step forward to ensure BC has the necessary supply of locally generated electricity to meet our expected power needs and climate goals,” said Matt MacInnis, president, Electrical Contractors Association of British Columbia.

“ECABC’s members are ready to help build these vitally important projects, and the additional infrastructure that will be needed […]” he added.

Updated demand forecasts filed by BC Hydro with the BC Utilities Commission confirm that new sources of electricity will be required “sooner than previously expected”.

To ensure that it is ready to procure new power supply, BC Hydro is moving forward with the development of a competitive process to acquire more clean electricity. This will be the utility’s first call for power in 15 years, and will target larger, utility-scale projects.

The demand for skilled electrical workers, including powerline technicians, is currently very high in the province, notes ECABC.

“The reality is that most types of construction require the specialized expertise of electrical contractors and their skilled tradespeople,” MacInnis warned. “We would like to work with the government, training institutions, labour and other partners to develop a strategy to ensure we have enough skilled electrical workers to build these important projects and accomplish our climate goals.”

BC Hydro will only acquire 100% clean, renewable electricity. The call for power will be designed by BC Hydro and the province following engagement with First Nations, industry and stakeholders. That engagement will include the development of options regarding minimum requirements for Indigenous participation in new projects.

The province is providing $140 million to the BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative (BCICEI) to “support Indigenous-led power projects, create economic opportunities for First Nations, and advance community self-determination”.

A newly formed BC Hydro task force will draw on further Indigenous and external energy experts to provide strategic advice on advancing Indigenous ownership and/or equity interest opportunities. The task force has three key priorities:

• Speed of permitting and delivery
• Oversight to protect ratepayers and enable economic and climate priorities
• Identify, enable, accelerate economic opportunities

The call for power that is expected in Spring 2024 will seek to acquire new sources as early as 2028, and may be followed by subsequent calls.

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