As parents, as businesspeople and as leaders, we all face choices that will have deep and long-lasting consequences for our future, and our families’ future.
We’re facing an important choice right now in British Columbia. Earlier this week, I met with students and educators at BCIT. It’s so exciting for me to see young people learning advanced skills and building their futures. We owe it to our young people, and to ourselves, to build an advanced economy, an economy that creates jobs in every community of British Columbia.
I’m proud to have been at BCIT to announce our plan to create those jobs and build our energy future. It’s called PowerBC.
Our plan has three strong values – create jobs, save money, and innovate.
How do we create well-paid, long-term careers in every region of our province? How do we protect families and businesses from runaway electricity bills, and how do we position British Columbia to be a clean energy powerhouse?
First, we upgrade all of the public buildings around the province that are using old, wasteful equipment and poor design. We’re going to retrofit schools, hospitals, and government buildings in literally every single community in British Columbia. This work will create thousands of jobs for carpenters, insulators, HVAC engineers, electricians, plumbers, general contractors and many others. These are well-paid, long-term jobs, and they are close to home.
Taxpayers in B.C. pay millions every year in unnecessary energy costs for their government. We can do better, and we can create thousands of jobs at the same time.
We’ll build on that by partnering with businesses and families to retrofit stores, warehouses, factories, offices, and homes. Almost everyone can make their home or business more energy efficient, while saving money on their Hydro bill and increasing the value of their home or business. An ambitious retrofit program for public and private buildings will significantly reduce demand for electricity while creating good new jobs right across B.C.
This retrofit initiative will help our businesses become more profitable and enable our manufacturers to become more competitive in a global market. It will also help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We can also do better with the hydroelectric dams we already have. Many of our dams were built more than half a century ago, and they have aging turbines and transformers. We can replace this equipment with modern, high-efficiency technology and increase our power generation without flooding farmland or destroying our natural environment.
We can design and build those turbines and transformers right here in B.C. We can push forward with clean energy technology on several fronts, like solar, wind, and next-generation batteries. Our trading partners in Asia, Europe, and the United States are all moving forward with clean energy technology. We have a tremendous opportunity in B.C. to lead the world in training researchers and engineers, designing innovative new technology, and building clean energy equipment to export around the world.
These are the ambitious, positive choices that will build our economy for the future.
Our current government, unfortunately, is still stuck in the ideas of the 1950s. Piling $9 billion of public debt onto Hydro customer’s bills for a huge slab of concrete across a river in the far north-east corner of the province? That’s looking backward, and I don’t want B.C. to go backward. I don’t think the only new jobs should be in a remote camp far away from our families. And I don’t think that the government should be using your money to fight endless court battles with First Nations. That’s Christy Clark’s 1950s thinking.
We need a better plan for a brighter future, and PowerBC is that plan.
We know that energy efficiency retrofit work creates twice as many new jobs as dam building does for every dollar spent. We know that solar and wind and battery technology is in demand all over the world, and that prices for these innovative new technologies are rapidly dropping.
Over the coming weeks and months, I’m going to be travelling all over British Columbia to talk about PowerBC, and to listen to what you think the future should look like. I’m going to meet with contractors and tradespeople on the jobsite, with engineers and researchers in the field, and with families in their homes. Together we can make a choice to embrace the future. I’m looking forward to it.