A new provincial plan charting how B.C. can replace fossil fuels with electricity and low-carbon power offers too few details, observers say.

For the first time, the provincial government publicized on Thursday its plans to meet surging demand for climate-friendly power. Demand for electricity is poised to roughly double by 2050 as the province moves away from fossil fuels. Recent years have seen growing calls for B.C.’s plan to meet those needs, including from pro-gas groups eager to leverage the uncertainty to block efforts to phase out use of the fossil fuel.

“By ramping up B.C.’s production of clean energy and using it more efficiently, we can drive economic growth for communities all over the province and ensure households, businesses and industries can power up with clean energy, from renewable electricity like wind and solar to biofuels, hydrogen and renewable natural gas,” said Josie Osborne, minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, in a news release.

Fulfilling a commitment from B.C. Hydro to seek new sources of renewable power, the plan includes a new rebate for property owners of up to $10,000 to install solar panels and battery banks. The electric utility will also commit to reducing consumers’ cost to obtain new electricity hookups.

Moreover, the strategy includes a suite of largely completed energy efficiency rules for home and water heating that will effectively phase out the use of natural gas. The province also said it will build more capacity to deliver power, bolster inter-provincial and international electricity trading schemes, and increase production in the province of hydrogen and so-called "renewable natural gas" made from organic waste.

"This strategy is another important milestone in the growth of B.C.’s burgeoning clean energy economy,” said George Benson, senior manager of economic development for the Zero Emissions Innovation Centre. “By bringing together crucial affordability measures like the highest efficiency equipment standard for 2030 with the broader job-creation efforts in developing new clean energy, we’re going to see continued record-growth in clean jobs.”

But some observers note the plan is only a useful outline, and not detailed enough to demonstrate that B.C. can meet its goals.

"This is a very credible vision from the province that brings in a variety of principles and priorities that must be reconciled as we plan and build out our energy system," said Evan Pivnik, clean energy program manager at Clean Energy Canada. "What this isn't is a clear roadmap that says, ‘Here's where we're going, here's where we want to go, here's the set of nearer-term coordinated actions that we're going to be taking to drive those reforms.’"

Detailed planning has already been completed by other provinces, including New Brunswick and Quebec, which have drafted precise plans outlining how they will reduce the climate impacts resulting from their energy usage in coming decades — plans, he said, that are critical for provinces to meet their goals.

Such details can help ensure the province transition from fossil fuels without massive disruptions to supply or price increases, Pivnik explained. Electricity is currently the province's third-largest energy source, after gasoline and natural gas.

According to the strategy, the province wants electric power to largely replace those fossil fuels in coming decades. But achieving this requires phasing out gas at a similar rate as construction of new electric generation and distribution infrastructure. Those are the details Pivnik hopes the province will outline in coming months.

That might happen. The strategy's concluding paragraph notes the government will "engage" with stakeholders and Indigenous people on the plan’s implementation and timeline. For Pivnik, the plan’s conclusion hints that more solid details could still come.

Producing more power isn't B.C.'s only challenge, he noted. The province also needs more infrastructure, so it can move and deliver electricity to the right places.

"We have a lot of work to do, but this is a step in the right direction," he said.

The federal government should be a partner in the effort to electrify everything. Too much of their attention has been paid to subsidizing fossil fuel production even as they continue wagging their chins on climate action.

Where is the vision to build a national smart grid? To partner with provinces, First Nations and the private sector to build onshore and offshore wind power projects? Solar? Geothermal? Rooftop solar and micro generation of renewable power? To develop a wholesale price purchase, storage and distribution system using interprovincial clean energy corridors? To up the ante on grants to convert and upgrade older energy systems in buildings for fossil-free power?

"... to partner with COOPERATIVE provinces ..."