Market Snapshot: Electricity exports from B.C. to California are increasing

Release date: 2017-03-15

Canadian electricity exports to the U.S. West Coast more than doubled between 2010 and 2016. Increased demand from California is the primary driver of this trend – exports to California increased from 2.3 terawatt hours (TW.h) in 2010 to 10.7 TW.h in 2016.

Electricity sold to California represents 15% of total Canadian power exports. The majority of that electricity is from British Columbia (B.C.).Footnote 1 In 2010, 43% of the electricity exported from B.C. went to California. In 2016, 79% of B.C. electricity exports went to California.Footnote 2

Source and Description

Source: NEB

Description: This stacked bar chart shows electricity exports in terawatt hours (TW.h) from B.C. to the U.S. West Coast from 2010 to 2016. During this period, electricity exports increased from 4.7 TW.h to 13.4 TW.h, driven primarily by increased demand from California. Exports to California increased from 2.3 TW.h to 10.7 TW.h over the same period, whereas exports to Washington and Oregon were relatively constant at 2.4 TW.h in 2010 and 2.7 TW.h in 2016.

California relies on out of state electricity imports to meet one-third of its current electricity demand. California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard also requires utilities to source 20% of the electricity sold in California in 2017 from renewable sources. This target is set to increase to 33% by 2020 and 50% by 2030. Notably, more than 85% of B.C. generation is from hydropower and nearly 95% is from non-emitting sources.

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