The mismanagement of BC Hydro should be considered a massive scandal and the defining issue of the upcoming provincial election. Since the BC Liberals took office, they turned the corporation from a cash cow into a nearly bankrupt utility that is now in debt to the tune of some $22 billion.
Consequently, hydro rates for British Columbians have increased by 34 per cent (adjusted for inflation) since 2001, and will need to increase much more to cover the increasing debt.
This huge debt is a result of the excessive costs of the unnecessary Independent Power Projects (IPPs) and the dividends that BC Hydro is forced to provide to general revenue, even during years when there are no profits.
BC Liberals at work. BC Hydro has signed up to 40-year-long IPP contracts worth $54 billion to purchase power not needed for three times more than the cost on the open market.
Most of this power is produced during the spring and early summer; thus there are episodes when water is spilled over BC Hydro dams to allow IPPs to service the demand. Another BC Liberal party misguided project.
The BC government’s worst decision was to build the Site C dam, which plans to flood 31,000 acres of prime agricultural land, destroy key wildlife habitat, violate the rights of First Nations, produce expensive power we do not need, and cost upwards of $9 billion; or likely billions more, given ongoing problems with soil stability and usual cost overruns.
The BC Utilities Commission was established to vet decisions like Site C, but this was disallowed by the Liberals when they created the Clean Energy Act, because the commission would likely not have supported the dam.
Direction 4 was issued by the Liberal government; it suppresses the Utilities Commission from doing the job it is supposed to do, which is keeping utility companies from running amok like BC Hydro has been allowed to do now.
Given the high costs, lack of demand, and many negative impacts, why is the BC Liberal government so determined to build the Site C dam? Perhaps it is a payback to the construction companies which have been donating to the BC Liberal Party, and as a result will reap millions of dollars in profits.
Hopefully, British Columbians will focus on BC Hydro mismanagement and their escalating electricity rates when they vote on May 9.
Correction: In a “Local News Brief” item about muscle cars on March 16, a Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 was incorrectly identified as a Chevrolet Chevette SS 454 in the accompanying picture.