BC Hydro is now a financial basket case

Added debt, independent power plants and a lack of oversight combine to cripple BC Hydro.

Editor: Beware of governments selling or privatizing publicly-owned assets, based on political philosophy. The BC Liberals promised not to sell BC Rail or privatize BC Hydro.

Christy Clark was Gordon Campbell’s deputy premier from 2001-2005, when the sale of BC Rail and privatizing of BC Hydro schemes were devised.

Legendary premier W.A.C. Bennett created BC Hydro as a Crown corporation in 1961. Its primary function was threefold —  to generate, transmit and distribute electricity. We enjoyed the lowest electrical rates in North America from clean hydropower until BC Liberal privatization, resulting in the doubling our electricity rates. Tripling will follow.

BC Hydro traditionally paid hundreds of millions in dividends every year to our treasury. Today if BC Hydro were in the private sector, it would be bankrupt.

The Liberals prevented BC Hydro from generating any more new power, and now mandate private independent power producers (IPPs), who have a monopoly on generating so-called clean green power.

The public watchdog regulator, B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC), announced that IPPs were not in the public’s interest, so the Liberals brazenly removed BCUC’s oversight function. They also removed BCUC from overseeing several other BC Hydro programs, including smart meters.

The sellout of our pristine rivers and streams came as hundreds of private IPPs and small load transmission lines (100 to 200-metre wide swaths) hacked through our sensitive parks and wilderness.

They literally sold us down the river by forcing BC Hydro to enter into long-term energy purchase agreement contracts with the IPPs, to buy back their power at as much as 25 times more than what it costs BC Hydro could produce it themselves.

BC Hydro must honour IPP contracts and pay exorbitant rates for power we don’t need at peak river flow times when our dams are so full we have to spill or dump water.

This is at a time when power is at its cheapest, and we can’t even give it away.

From 2012 to 2017 and beyond, Hydro will pay over $55 billion to the IPPs for overpriced electric power we don’t need and can’t use. This equals our current total provincial debt, or one-quarter of our GDP economy.

Add in the more than $96 billion contractual obligations, and the province owes a stunning $146 billion. It’s now impossible to pay BC Hydro’s debt and pay down our provincial debt.

The Liberal policy is to stay the destructive course, minimize BC Hydro’s role and continue privatizing power production. This means excessive unaffordable rate increases.

BC Hydro, which was once a crown jewel, is now a ruined financial basket case.

Roland Seguin,


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