Work continues in the riverbed for the Site C dam on the Peace River. (B.C. Hydro)

Work continues in the riverbed for the Site C dam on the Peace River. (B.C. Hydro)

B.C. Hydro rates to rise another 8.1 per cent in next five years

$1.1 billion bailout by NDP government keeps rate hikes low for next two years

B.C. Hydro’s electricity rates are expected to increase 1.8 per cent on April 1 and another 0.7 per cent in 2020, part of a five-year program that will see rates rise by 8.1 per cent in the next five years.

The lower rates for the next two years are made possible by a $1.1 billion write-off of one of the utilities deferred debt accounts.

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announced the new rate plan Thursday, emphasizing the impact has also been reduced by a cost-cutting review of the utility. That includes scaling back B.C. Hydro’s capital plan by more than $2 billion, while carrying on with necessary upgrades to aging dams and infrastructure around the province.

The rate increases are subject to approval by the B.C. Utilities Commission, which Mungall said will not be interfered with as it has in the past. If approved, the 2019 increase would cost the average customer who pays $1,000 a year for electricity another $18.

The plan includes suspending B.C. Hydro’s “standing offer program” for independent power producers and renegotiating existing power contracts, which the NDP government paused when it formed government in August, 2017. Some projects in the works have Indigenous partners in remote communities, and a consultation will be held to measure impacts.

B.C. Hydro currently has power purchase agreements with 19 wood waste generators, burning waste fibre from sawmills and pulp mills to generate steam and electricity. Those are to be kept going to help the mills manage their wood waste, while technology to convert wood fibre to biofuels is explored, Mungall said.

The plan includes suspending B.C. Hydro’s “standing offer program” for independent power producers and renegotiating existing power contracts, which the NDP government paused when it formed government in August, 2017.

RELATED: B.C. Hydro’s private power costs weigh utility down

The NDP’s long-standing warnings about cumulative costs of long-term private power contracts were reinforced this week with a report commissioned by the ministry showing the contracts forced B.C. Hydro to buy power it did not need at above-market rates. That report estimated that the costs of private power will cost the average customer an extra $200 per year over the next 20 years.

Earlier demand forecasts showed B.C. Hydro would need more power than it projects today. Some mills and industrial operations have shut down, including the recent announcement that Mount Polley Mine near Quesnel is suspending operations due to low copper prices.

B.C. Liberal energy critic Greg Kyllo defended the previous government’s decision to seek energy self-sufficiency, even in the lowest water years, to reduce or eliminate the power being imported from other jurisdictions, most of which used coal or gas for at least some of their generation.

Kyllo questioned the fairness of the independent report by former B.C. Treasury Board director Ken Davidson, entitled “Zapped.” Davidson was a staffer in the previous NDP government who was brought in to provide the government with the conclusions it wanted, 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

(BC Hydro photo)
BC Hydro planned power outages to darken downtown Smithers for most of day Sunday, Jan 17

Replacement of poles will affect approximately 250 customers in downtown core from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Smithers Local Health Area reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 Jan. 3 - 9. (BC CDC graphic)
Weekly new cases of COVID-19 rise to 25 in Smithers LHA Jan. 3 – 9

Northern Health reported 49 new daily cases for 497 active, 44 hospitalized, 13 in critical care

The first of two massive turbines headed from Prince Rupert for the Site C Dam near Fort St. John on Jan 10. (Photo: Supplied by Tasha McKenzie)
Massive turbines begin trek across Northwestern B.C.

Hydro-Electric turbines headed from Prince Rupert to Site C Dam week of Jan. 10 to 14

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)

Most Read