By Norm Macdonald, MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke
BC Hydro is a Crown Corporation which was set up to serve the public good by providing assured, low-cost electricity for British Columbians. Crown corporations are publicly owned companies that are managed by the Provincial government.
The BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) was originally created to ensure that decisions concerning BC Hydro were not made entirely on the whim of politicians. The BCUC is composed of people with expertise and the mandate to ensure that decisions are made in the best interests of ratepayers.
The BC Liberals have deliberately undermined the ability of the BCUC to oversee BC Hydro, while making decisions that were clearly for partisan interests.
The BC Liberal government specifically passed legislation to prohibit the BCUC from looking at a number of projects including the Site C dam on the Peace River. The BCUC would have ensured that building Site C was actually in ratepayers’ interest before it was approved.
Other examples include the almost $17 billion in debt taken on by BC Hydro, and the mismanagement of projects like the North West Transmission line which was 80% over budget.
The BC Liberals also forced BC Hydro to enter into $54 billion of contractual obligations to buy power from private producers, overpaying for power we do not actually need. Again, it is hard to imagine that the BCUC would have decided that these purchase agreements made sense for ratepayers.
Further recent misuse of this Crown Corporation was the $5.5 billion the BC Liberals forced BC Hydro to borrow so that the government could take this amount as a dividend, and claim a balanced budget. Would the BCUC have approved this shell game? Absolutely not.
In total, this is more than $76 billion of debt forced on to a Crown Corporation that you as a citizen own; a Crown Corporation that once provided real dividends to the Province that paid for social programs like healthcare and education.
Before the last election, Christy Clark said there would be no BC Hydro rate increases but instead we have seen a 28% increase to rates. And we know there is more to come.
The truth is that the BC Liberals have horribly mismanaged BC Hydro, and they have done so for their own partisan interests.
You and I as ratepayers will be paying the costs for these entirely partisan decisions for decades to come.