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.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Greater Victoria writer releases first novel inspired by U.S. school shootings

Dear Mr. President tells thought provoking story of victims left behind

Saanich mayor joins fight to protect local wildlife from rat poisoning after second owl dies

Mayor Fred Haynes to meet with provincial, federal pest control industry representatives

Sidney fire responds to fewer but more severe calls during pandemic

Rise in severity linked to changes in routine during COVID-19 pandemic

Saanich police see spike in excessive speeding compared to previous years

Nearly 100 excessive speeders caught since January 2020

Colwood branch drop-off to continue throughout summer

COVID-19 safety measures remain in place

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

Most Read