Canada and British Columbia have signed a memorandum of understanding affirming their joint commitment to power the province's natural gas production and LNG sectors with electricity instead of natural gas.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is heading into a federal election in October, and B.C. Premier John Horgan made the announcement in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey Aug. 29.

Under the MOU, the new Canada-British Columbia Clean Power Planning Committee will work to advance projects that power transmission and electrification across the province. It will include representatives from the provincial and federal governments as well as BC Hydro.

The committee will build on past work including the Regional Electricity Cooperation and Strategic Infrastructure Initiative, which found that opportunities to electrify the natural gas sector in B.C. are among the most cost-effective in western Canada.

Currently, B.C.'s natural gas sector also produces about 18 percent of the province's greenhouse gas emissions, the federal-provincial joint announcement said. "By using clean power—a process referred to as electrification—we will avoid emissions and position Canada as a supplier of the world's cleanest natural gas," it added. "It will also help B.C. achieve its climate change commitments."

The MOU also covers the as-yet-developed LNG sector that B.C. is trying to launch from coastal locations for export to Asia and other global markets. A number of projects in the province are on the drawing board, including LNG Canada's announcement last year for a C$40-billion processing and export facility at Kitimat in northwestern B.C.

The MOU, which is in effect for five years, also said that the province has already been making investments in its grid to enable electrification of the natural gas industry. As part of this, last April, the federal government announced that it is providing up to C$83.6 million towards the Peace Region Electricity Supply project through the Investing in Canada Plan, with BC Hydro providing the remaining C$205.4 million.

"This work is part of a broader effort to advance clean power in regions across Canada," the joint announcement also said. "Earlier this year, the Government of Canada, together with the Atlantic provinces, announced the creation of an Atlantic Clean Power Planning Committee."