Work continues in the riverbed for the Site C dam on the Peace River. (B.C. Hydro)

B.C. Hydro rates to rise another 8.1 per cent in next five years

$1.1 billion bailout by NDP government keeps rate hikes low for next two years

B.C. Hydro’s electricity rates are expected to increase 1.8 per cent on April 1 and another 0.7 per cent in 2020, part of a five-year program that will see rates rise by 8.1 per cent in the next five years.

The lower rates for the next two years are made possible by a $1.1 billion write-off of one of the utilities deferred debt accounts.

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announced the new rate plan Thursday, emphasizing the impact has also been reduced by a cost-cutting review of the utility. That includes scaling back B.C. Hydro’s capital plan by more than $2 billion, while carrying on with necessary upgrades to aging dams and infrastructure around the province.

The rate increases are subject to approval by the B.C. Utilities Commission, which Mungall said will not be interfered with as it has in the past. If approved, the 2019 increase would cost the average customer who pays $1,000 a year for electricity another $18.

The plan includes suspending B.C. Hydro’s “standing offer program” for independent power producers and renegotiating existing power contracts, which the NDP government paused when it formed government in August, 2017. Some projects in the works have Indigenous partners in remote communities, and a consultation will be held to measure impacts.

B.C. Hydro currently has power purchase agreements with 19 wood waste generators, burning waste fibre from sawmills and pulp mills to generate steam and electricity. Those are to be kept going to help the mills manage their wood waste, while technology to convert wood fibre to biofuels is explored, Mungall said.

The plan includes suspending B.C. Hydro’s “standing offer program” for independent power producers and renegotiating existing power contracts, which the NDP government paused when it formed government in August, 2017.

RELATED: B.C. Hydro’s private power costs weigh utility down

The NDP’s long-standing warnings about cumulative costs of long-term private power contracts were reinforced this week with a report commissioned by the ministry showing the contracts forced B.C. Hydro to buy power it did not need at above-market rates. That report estimated that the costs of private power will cost the average customer an extra $200 per year over the next 20 years.

Earlier demand forecasts showed B.C. Hydro would need more power than it projects today. Some mills and industrial operations have shut down, including the recent announcement that Mount Polley Mine near Quesnel is suspending operations due to low copper prices.

B.C. Liberal energy critic Greg Kyllo defended the previous government’s decision to seek energy self-sufficiency, even in the lowest water years, to reduce or eliminate the power being imported from other jurisdictions, most of which used coal or gas for at least some of their generation.

Kyllo questioned the fairness of the independent report by former B.C. Treasury Board director Ken Davidson, entitled “Zapped.” Davidson was a staffer in the previous NDP government who was brought in to provide the government with the conclusions it wanted, Kyllo said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. First Nations’ intake of essential nutrients to drop by 31 per cent: study

Professors project the nutrient decrease by 2050 if climate change mitigation continues as is

B.C. minister says rural internet is ‘railroad of the 21st century’

Jinny Sims talks details about the $50-million provincial and possible $750-million federal funds

Arts funding for Haida Gwaii and Rupert societies

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice announced $320,643 in funding from the BC Arts Council Grant

North Coast social worker advocated for behaviour analysis service

Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert received the new service last year

Masset students stage school walkout as part of global protest

Students of Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay Secondary marched for climate justice on March 14

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

Dutch police question new suspect in deadly tram shooting

Police are looking for additional suspects in the shooting

Starbucks to test recyclable cups, redesign stores in B.C., U.S. cities

The company also said it plans to redesign its stores as it adapts to increasing mobile pick-up and delivery orders

In pre-election budget, Liberals boost infrastructure cash to cities, broadband

The budget document says the Liberals have approved more than 33,000 projects, worth about $19.9 billion in federal financing

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

B.C. mosque part of open-house effort launched in wake of New Zealand shootings

The ‘Visit a Mosque’ campaign aims to combat Islamophobia

Explosives unit brought in after suspicious boxes left at B.C. RCMP detachment

Nanaimo RCMP issues all clear after packages were found on lawn earlier in the day

Newfoundland man caught after posting photo of himself drinking and driving

The 19-year-old took a photo of himself holding a beer bottle and cigarette while at the wheel

Most Read