Electricity Regulation & Reliability

British Columbia has jurisdiction over generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity within its provincial boundaries. The federal government has jurisdiction over electricity exports and international and designated interprovincial transmission lines.

B.C. must also work with other jurisdictions to make sure we have electricity when we need it. B.C.’s transmission system is part of a larger interconnected power grid, called the Western Interconnection, which reaches across B.C. and Alberta, 14 western states and the northern portion of Baja California, Mexico.

The Province collaborates with two groups to make sure the electricity supply is reliable:

  • The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) is a not-for-profit entity whose mission is to ensure the reliability of North America’s electricity system by developing and enforcing reliability standards.
  • The Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) is a regional entity responsible for coordinating and promoting reliability in the Western Interconnection.

BC Utilities Commission

The British Columbia Utilities Commission regulates the supply of electricity in B.C. and sets rates that homeowners and businesses pay. It also has the authority to adopt standards established by NERC to ensure B.C. homes and businesses get reliable electricity where and when they need it.

The Utilities Commission Act was amended in 2008 to create a mechanism for introducing Mandatory Reliability Standards for B.C.’s electricity system. This amendment assigns the Commission the authority to adopt standards as established by NERC and WECC. To date, over 100 standards have been adopted relating to a wide range of requirements such as emergency response planning, physical equipment standards and security of information technology (IT) systems (cyber security).

Under the Utilities Commission Act, the British Columbia Utilities Commission regulates British Columbia’s natural gas and electricity utilities. It approves utilities’ revenue requirements and rates, and capital projects and their costs. 

Most Canadian provinces, territories, and American states have a board, commission, or panel similar to the British Columbia Utilities Commission. Their common mandate is to balance the interests of the consumer and the utility company.