Cabinet minister responds to Horgan

Hydro rate hikes comments forces Minister of Energy and Mines to respond

I am responding to the July 10, 2013, op-ed ‘Hydro rate hikes, tip of the iceberg’ by John Horgan. Stable and secure power is fundamental to growing a strong economy which is why we are investing in new and existing hydro infrastructure.

While Mr. Horgan asserts there is no business case for a nation building project like the Northwest Transmission Line, a line that will bring power to a huge part of the province currently running off diesel generators, our government believes investments such as this are exactly what BC Hydro should be doing. This project will open up world class mineral deposits and support new mines, like Red Chris, one of the top 10 copper gold deposits in the world. In fact, the Mining Association of BC estimates the line could attract more than $15 billion in mining investment, creating up to 10,000 jobs and generating $300 million in annual tax revenues. None of this happens unless we build the line to provide the power these mines need.

We need to ensure we have a diverse grid that can provide reliable power today, and into the future. That’s why we continue to support new, cleaner sources of power such as wind and run of river. Do these sources produce power at a higher cost than what our heritage assets do? Of course they do. Like most other things, it costs more today to produce power than it did decades ago. But these sources are cleaner than alternatives such as coal or gas and less expensive than building brand new hydroelectric dams.

In the nineties the NDP government made virtually no investments in Hydro infrastructure and did little to maintain BC Hydro’s assets. Their idea of a sound investment was a power plant in Pakistan. We have taken a different approach. We are investing in projects that are powering our needs today and ensuring we will have the power we need for our future. The unprecedented opportunity in Liquefied Natural Gas and other growing sectors such as mining must be supported with stable, secure power. This is what we are building.

You can’t make these kinds of legacy investments that will benefit all British Colombians without putting pressure on rates. Contrary to some reports, BC Hydro is managing their capital projects within their planned budget. There are a couple of projects over budget but most are under budget.

I have been very clear that my mandate, as given to me by the Premier, is to minimize rate increases while continuing to make historic investments in Hydro’s infrastructure to grow our economy. I am committed to accomplishing this goal.

 

Honourable Bill Bennett

Minister of Energy and Mines, Responsible for Core Review