2006 Legislative Session: 2nd Session, 38th Parliament
The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.
MR. GUY GENTNER
HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, enacts as follows:
1 The following sections are added to the Utilities Commission Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 473:
69 For the purpose of protecting public health and safety, in addition to obtaining a certificate of public convenience and necessity under section 45, a person must obtain a transmission facilities certificate from the commission before beginning to construct or operate electricity transmission facilities.
69.1 (1) Where appropriate, an applicant for a transmission facilities certificate must file the following information, material, evidence and documents with the commission:
(a) a description, including estimated costs, of the proposed transmission line, substation or switching station, covering, where applicable underground cable sizes and specifications, overhead tower design and appearance and heights, if any, conductor sizes, and initial and ultimate voltages and capacities;
(b) a statement and full explanation of why the proposed transmission line, substation or switching station is necessary and how the facility conforms to a long-range plan for expansion of the electricity grid serving the province and interconnected utility systems, that will serve the public need for adequate, reliable and economic service;
(c) a map of suitable scale of the proposed routing or site, showing details of the rights-of-way or site in the vicinity of settled areas, parks, recreational areas and scenic areas, and showing existing transmission lines within 2 kilometers of the proposed route or site;
(d) a justification for adoption of the route or site selected, including comparison with alternative routes or sites which are environmentally, technically and economically practical;
(e) a description of the effect of the proposed transmission line, substation or switching station on the environment, ecology, and scenic, historic and recreational values;
(f) a justification for overhead portions, if any, including life-cycle cost studies comparing overhead alternatives with underground alternatives, and the effects of underground of underground alternatives on the environment, ecology, and scenic, historic and recreational values;
(g) a schedule of dates showing the proposed program of right-of-way or property acquisition, construction, completion and operation;
(h) identification of each federal, provincial, regional, district and municipal agency with which proposed route or site reviews have been undertaken, including a copy of each written agency position on such route or site; and
(i) an assessment of the impact of any electromagnetic fields to be produced by the proposed transmission line.
(2) In addition or in the alternative to subsection (1), where appropriate, an applicant for a transmission facilities certificate must file the following information, material, evidence and documents with the commission:
(a) a description of the proposed electricity generation or storage facility;
(b) a statement and full explanation of why the proposed facility is necessary;
(c) a statement of loads and resources;
(d) safety and reliability information, including planned provisions for emergency operations and shutdowns;
(e) estimated cost information, including plant costs, fuel costs, plant service life and capacity factor, and total generating cost per kilowatt-hour, both at the plant and related transmission, and comparative costs of alternatives considered;
(f) a schedule showing the program for design, material acquisition, construction and testing, and operating dates;
(g) available site information, including maps and description and present and proposed development, and geological, scenic, ecological, seismic, biological, water supply, population and load center data;
(h) a justification for adopting the site selected, including comparison with alternative sites;
(i) design information, including description of facilities, plant efficiencies, electrical connections to system, and control systems;
(j) a description of provisions, including devices and operations, for mitigation of the effects of the operation of the facility on air and water quality, for waste disposal, and for noise abatement, and information on other environmental aspects; and
(k) a listing of federal, provincial, regional, district and municipal agencies from which approvals either have been obtained or will be sought covering the proposed facility, copies of approvals received and a planned schedule for obtaining those approvals not yet received.
(3) Within 12 months of the filing of an application under this section, the commission must issue or refuse to issue a transmission facilities certificate, and may impose terms, conditions, limitations or modifications with respect to the construction or operation of the electricity transmission facilities as the commission deems appropriate.
(4) The commission must not issue a transmission facilities certificate under subsection (3), unless it finds and determines:
(a) a public need for the electricity transmission facilities and the basis for the need, taking into consideration other feasible and prudent alternatives presented to the commission to address that need;
(b) the nature of the probable environmental impact of the facilities or a feasible and prudent alternative presented to the commission, alone and cumulatively with other existing facilities, including a specification of every significant adverse effect, including electromagnetic fields, whether alone or cumulatively with other effects, on, and in conflict with the policies of the province concerning the natural environment, ecological balance, public health and safety, scenic, historic and recreational values, forests and parks, air and water purity, and fish, aquaculture and wildlife;
(c) reasons why the adverse effects or conflicts referred to in paragraph (b) are not sufficient to deny the application, including reasons why other feasible and prudent alternatives presented to the commission, with less adverse effects or fewer conflicts, do not address the same public need; and
(d) in the case of a transmission line,
(i) what part, if any, of the transmission line will be located overhead,
(ii) that the transmission line conforms to a long-range plan for expansion of the electricity grid of the electricity systems serving the province and interconnected public utility systems and will serve the interests of electricity system economy and reliability, and
(iii) that the overhead portions, if any, of the transmission line, or a feasible and prudent alternative presented to the commission, are cost-effective and the most appropriate option based on a life-cycle cost analysis of the line and underground alternatives to such a line, and are consistent with the purpose set out in section 69 and with rules, regulations and orders of the commission in relation to a buffer zone, established by the commission to protect public health and safety and taking into consideration, among other things,
(1) residential areas, private and public schools, licensed child-care facilities, licensed youth camps, and public playgrounds adjacent to the proposed route of the overhead portions,
(2) the level of voltage of the overhead portions, and
(3) any existing overhead transmission lines on the proposed route,
(iv) that the location of the transmission line will not pose an undue hazard to persons or property along the area traversed by the line.
69.2 (1) Unless the contrary is proved, a proposed transmission line with a capacity of 345 kilovolts or more is presumed to meet a public need and provide a public benefit if it will be
(a) buried substantially underground in all residential areas, and
(b) installed substantially above ground in all industrial and open-space areas
through which it passes.
(2) Unless the contrary is proved, a proposed transmission line with a capacity of 345 kilovolts or more is presumed to be inconsistent with the purpose set out in section 69 if any overhead portions of the transmission line will be adjacent to residential areas, private or public schools, licensed child-care facilities, licensed youth camps, or public playgrounds.
(3) The presumption in subsection (2) may be rebutted by demonstrating that it is technologically infeasible to bury the relevant overhead portions of the transmission line underground.
(4) In determining technological feasibility under subsection (3), the commission must consider the effect of burying the relevant overhead portions of the transmission line on the reliability of the province's transmission system.
69.3 (1) Oral public hearings must be held by the commission in relation to an application for a transmission facilities certificate.
(2) A written record of all hearings under subsection (1) must be made available and accessible to the public, and must be filed in an appropriate public office, as determined by the commission, in each municipality potentially affected by the application.
69.4 (1) The commission must adopt and revise, as it deems necessary, standards for best management practices for electric and magnetic fields for transmission lines.
(2) Standards under subsection (1) must
(a) be based on the latest completed and ongoing scientific and medical research on electromagnetic fields, and
(b) require individual, project-specific assessments of electromagnetic fields, taking into consideration design techniques, including compact spacing, optimum phasing of conductors and applicable and appropriate new field management technologies.
69.5 If legislation comes into force at the time of or after the commencement of this Act which results in the reconfiguration or burial of proposed transmission facilities, all prudent costs incurred by the British Columbia Transmission Corporation or an electricity distribution company in association with the reconfiguration or burial must be deemed reasonable by the commission and must be recovered by the Transmission Corporation or company in their rates.
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