Our View: Hydro rate reduction raises questions

The way the B.C. government is scaling back BC Hydro rate increases raises more questions than answers.

The provincial government has done a good thing in scaling back BC Hydro rate increases. The way it is doing so raises more questions than answers.

On Tuesday, Energy Minister Rich Coleman announced that the government was cancelling a B.C. Utilities Commission hearing into Hydro rate increases, which have already been scaled back from the 50 per cent premium increases which were initially proposed about two years ago. At that time, the rate increases were suggested to allow for introduction of the smart meter program, purchase of private power under long-term contracts and major capital expenses, including turbine installation at several dams and other upgrades.

When Coleman was named energy minister under new Premier Christy Clark, she asked that he review Hydro’s plans.

The review said that the smart meter program should stay, and that other projects should proceed, but also said that rates didn’t need to go up as steeply.

Hydro then asked for an eight per cent increase in 2012, 3.91 per cent in 2013 and 3.91 per cent in 2014. Planned increases had been 9.73 per cent each year.

On Tuesday, Coleman said Hydro received an eight per cent increase in 2011 and a 3.91 per cent increase in 2012, along with a rate rider of five per cent. The government is now saying it wants a 1.44 per cent increase in 2013, making the rate increase 17 per cent over three years.

There was no word of what is planned in 2014 or beyond.

Why is there a B.C. Utilities Commission, if the government can simply override its mandate?

Perhaps the biggest question is this: Is this all politics, in preparation for the 2013 provincial election? Is the 2013 rate increase being kept artificially low on the expectation that the NDP will win government, as polls suggest? Is this a time bomb being left by the current government for what may be a new government? So far, there are no clear answers.

Just Posted

Kelowna firefights camp out under the stars for youth recovery house

The firefighters will be on the top of the Yacht Club until tomorrow night

Sheryl Crow hits West Kelowna for Mission Hill Winery concert

Songstress seems struck by the natural beauty of the Okanagan

Okanagan Wildfires: The latest on wildfires and evacuations

A Saturday morning look at the major wildfires impact the Okanagan and Similkameen.

Okanagan wildfires have potential to become firestorms, says UBC expert

David Andison said to let smaller fires go, to create pockets in the landscape for new forests

Evacuation order downgraded near Mount Eneas wildfire

Fire chief Dennis Craig said wind was blowing the fire away from homes

Okanagan Wildfires: The latest on wildfires and evacuations

A Saturday morning look at the major wildfires impact the Okanagan and Similkameen.

PHOTO GALLERY: BC Games Day 2

A brief look at action from the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

Wildfire near Keremeos still burning at 255 hectares

The Placer Mountain wildfire is still active

2017 wildfires give B.C. mom chance to say thank you to officer who saved her son

An unlikely encounter in the rural community of Likely, near Williams Lake

UPDATED: Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters defy eviction order

Demonstrators at Camp Cloud in Burnaby say they won’t leave, but will meet with city officials

B.C. tent city camper arrested for taking coins from fountain

The man, who built a shelter at a Saanich park, says homeless people are unfairly targeted

Ex-Raptor DeMar DeRozan says goodbye to Toronto on Instagram

The guard was traded to the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green

VIDEO: B.C. rancher demands change on how gov’t handles emergencies after 2017 wildfires

Essential service designation, tax deferrals should be on the table for ranchers

From hot dog to not dog: stuffed toy prompts car break in

Victoria couple said dog toy had been in the backseat for 18 years without problems

Most Read