Powerhouse construction at Site C dam on the Peace River, spring 2019. The project’s $10 billion price tag has pushed up B.C. Hydro debt. (B.C. Hydro)

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

B.C. Hydro has applied for a rare rate decrease to take effect next spring, before the cost of hydroelectricity to B.C. consumers is forecast to climb again.

Documents released Friday by B.C. Hydro project a rate decrease of just under one per cent, an abrupt change from an upward trend in recent years driven by debt piling up to upgrade aging facilities and build the Site C dam on the Peace River.

The rate decrease is subject to approval by the B.C. Utilities Commission, and would take effect April 1, 2020. It would be followed by a 3.5 per cent rate increase a year later, according to the latest rates forecast.

B.C. Hydro CEO Chris O’Riley cited lower that forecast debt costs, stronger income from Powerex, the utility’s power trading subsidiary, and reduced costs from purchasing independent power.

The B.C. NDP government tried to freeze rates in 2018, but the BCUC rejected its application. Since then it has suspended independent power contract purchases and in Finance Minister Carole James’ latest budget, wrote off $1.1 billion of B.C. Hydro’s deferred debt by transferring it to the provincial debt.

“I’m thrilled that B.C. Hydro is now able to apply for a rate reduction for the first time in decades,” said Energy Minister Michelle Mungall, whose term got off to a rocky start when she promised a rate freeze and couldn’t deliver.

The NDP government moved to suspend B.C. Hydro’s “standing offer program” for independent power projects, after years of characterizing independent power as a key driver in rising costs. Exceptions would be made for Indigenous partnerships to develop power in remote regions that are off the B.C. Hydro grid, Mungall said at the time.

The NDP government produced a controversial report in February, entitled “Zapped,” that said former premier Gordon Campbell’s 2002 push into contracted run-of-river, wind and biomass power will cost B.C. Hydro $16 billion over the next 20 years.

RELATED: NDP’s consultant points finger at private power costs

RELATED: B.C. budget for 2019-20 bails out B.C. Hydro, ICBC

B.C. Liberal energy critic Greg Kyllo said the NDP’s “assault on clean energy producers” was a move to protect the unionized monopoly of B.C. Hydro production.

“British Columbia has been a leader in green tech and clean energy, and the advances we have seen over the past decade have been thanks to entrpreneurs, private businesses and First Nations investing in the future, certainly not government bureaucrats,” Kyllo said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

RCMP launch month-long impaired driving counterattack campaign

Carpooling, designated drivers, taxi, public transit all better choices than driving while impaired

BC Hydro reservoirs see record low rain across Vancouver Island

Hydro electric watersheds are at a third of their normal levels

North Island Rising: Your city budget planning process already in full swing

Don’t wait until that tax notice arrives before starting the conversation

Strike taking a toll on families of WFP workers with Christmas approaching

Vancouver Islanders rally to provide assistance through grassroots charity campaigns

Judge dismisses second appeal of Victoria man who murdered unarmed man in 2010 botched robbery

Andrew Jonathon Belcourt has had two trials after his first appeal was granted

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Camosun College for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Carriageworks Restorations come together to care for car

‘Nightmare’ Wellburns sewage flood ousts tenants indefinitely

Residents evacuated after sewage flooded basement of century-old building

Habitat for Humanity opens four homes in Comox Valley, capping record year

Area chapter finishes eight homes during one year for first time

B.C. Transit saves $300,000, scores 28 used fareboxes from California

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

Canada home to 6.5 million people with one or more disability

Women are more likely than men to be living with disability

Getting into the holiday spirits in a mindful way

Alcohol production demands various amounts of water, land and energy use, notes columnist

You’re part of the show in Belfry’s newest production

Every Brilliant Thing uses a recreated, more intimate theatre space for this holiday offering

Mexico in December

Why you should the country’s most popular beach destinations before peak season

Up to 1,500 new rental units proposed for Victoria

More than a million square feet of rental units proposed for downtown Yates Street development

Most Read