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Letter: Liberal ‘incompetence’ blamed for power hike
To the editor:
Sticking it to the little guy.
Adrian Dix paid a visit to Kelowna, roasting Christy Clark over her election promise to reduce BC Hydro rates. What’s instead been announced is a 28 per cent increase across the next five years.
Whether you like Dix or not, he’s right when he blames “Liberal incompetence” for the increase.
The government forecast a demand for energy and started signing contracts for independent power projects around five years ago.
The demand for energy didn’t materialize, and the province is forced to buy independent power at above-market rates for the next 30 or 40 years.
The BC Utilities Commission might have stopped at least some of these contracts from being signed had the Liberals not stripped that public watchdog of almost all oversight of BC Hydro matters.
Last year, the Crown corporation lost more than $300,000 on Independent Power Producer contracts, and losses are projected to run to $40 billion across the contracts’ lifetimes.
Although the government is trying to cancel up to 20 contracts due to non-performance issues, there’s no action on 47 new IPPs that have been contracted but are not yet constructed.
Apart from the ongoing IPP fiasco, BC Hydro has routinely subsidized private corporations by building infrastructure to meet industrial needs. A case in point is the Site C dam.
If it’s built, ratepayers will be paying for power plants needed by the LNG industry. Site C is projected to cost $7.9 billion, and cost overruns can be expected.
Let’s be clear—residents don’t need more power.
B.C. is currently a net exporter of power, and a surplus, enough to power 472,000 homes, is projected for at least the next ten years.
With strong conservation programs in place, we might not need additional infrastructure for a very long time.
Dix said the government’s goal “is to make it look like they’re balancing the budget when in fact they’re running a Ponzi scheme.”
What he referred to is the Liberal strategy of dumping BC Hydro’s debt into so-called deferral accounts.
If the debt is deferred, the thinking goes, it’s not really debt until the day arrives that it gets counted.
Five billion dollars in debt has been deferred and it’s now time, the thinking goes, for ratepayers to cough up.
Ratepayers should instead shout from the rooftops “hell, no!”—not until BC Hydro’s golden salaries are independently reviewed, not until IPP contracts are cancelled, not until full oversight of BC Hydro is restored to the Utilities Commission, and not until industries pay for their own power needs.