Editorial — The reasons for BC Hydro rate increases

The demand for dividends and cost of independent power forces BC Hydro rates up.

Leaked documents indicate that BC Hydro is planning a 26 per cent rate increase over the next two years.

While the BC Liberal government says the rate hike will not be that high, this is at least the third time in the past year that there has been indications of a massive BC Hydro rate increase in the works.

There are several concerns about this, whether the 26 per cent increase comes to fruition or not.

It’s no secret that Hydro has to come up with billions of dollars to continue to upgrade the electrical utility system it operates. The infrastructure, some of which goes back to the 1960s or earlier, needs attention. Hydro also wants to  build the Site C dam on the Peace River, which would cost billions in itself.

At the same time,

Hydro has been  handicapped by the BC Liberal government in two very important areas. First, it has been required to make massive dividend payments to the province, its only shareholder. These have been used to keep the provincial budget from dipping deeper into the red.

While there may be some justification for the province occasionally taking a dividend from Hydro, the size and regularity of its demands are unprecedented. When a corporation needs to raise billions for capital projects, it makes sense that dividends be cut back or even eliminated. If Hydro was a private sector corporation, that is likely what it would be doing, in order to have at least some of its own cash to spend on infrastructure.

In addition, the dividends are highly political. They are used to keep the deficit down and allow politicians to boast about B.C.’s low income tax rate. This boast ignores ever-increasing Hydro, ICBC and Medical Service Premium rates, all of which must be paid by most B.C. residents.

The other handicap Hydro has is that it has been forced to buy run-of-river power from small contractors at rates far in excess of what it costs to produce its own power. Thus Hydro ratepayers are subsidizing private power developers.

There is nothing wrong with private power, but it should be developed when economical to do so — not because a higher than market rate is guaranteed.

The provincial government needs to stop interfering in Hydro’s business, and let it run the electric utility in the efficient manner which has generally been the case since its formation in 1961.

Just Posted

DW Poppy Sr. boys basketball defeats ACSS Totems rivals

DW Poppy’s Sr. boys RedHawks defeated ACSS Totems this Friday in a high-stakes basketball match.

VIDEO: All ages participate in Langley Hospice Historic Half marathon

Turnout was down, slightly, this year but donations are up

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants blank Rockets

Langley-based G-men take over top spot in the west

Langley Township goes high tech to spotlight local history

To mark the start of History Week, the Township has put out a new app all about the community.

Kodiaks begin best-of-seven series strong

The Kodiaks opened their quarter-final playoff series by defeating the Delta Ice Hawks on home ice.

VIDEO: Langley hosting high-flying fun at annual gymnastics tournament

Action runs Friday through Sunday at the Langley Events Centre fieldhouse.

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Pedestrian in serious condition after hit by car downtown Abbotsford

A youth was also hit, suffered minor injuries, police say

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

Most Read