Editorial view: Hydro rate hike cover up by Liberals

NDP MLA John Horgan talks about BC Hydro and smart meters

British Columbians have been bracing themselves for a raft of hikes, fees, and cuts. We were preparing for increases in ICBC premiums, struggling with sky-high ferry fares, and trying to fathom the program cuts and the crass wheelchair fee in long-term care homes that have already appeared as a result of the 2013 Liberal budget.

But last week, a leaked document emerged that suggested British Columbians could be on the hook for an astounding 26 per cent increase in our hydro rates by 2016, adding a whopping $273 per year to the average residential customer’s bill.

Before the election call and on the campaign trail, the Liberals told British Columbians that they had electricity rates under control. Now we know they never did, and it is nearly impossible to believe that they had no knowledge of this looming rate crunch.

In the Westside-Kelowna by-election, Premier Christy Clark maintained that position, but was contradicted by Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett, who admitted that rates would soon rise. Confronted with the discrepancy, Clark told reporters, “I can’t say if they will go up,” adding, “I just don’t know the answer to that.”

This Liberal pre-election hydro rate cover up is like the HST deception all over again.

While this day of reckoning is alarming and extremely disappointing, it is not surprising. For years, the Liberals have sidelined the independent experts at the B.C. Utilities Commission, and insisted on political interference at B.C. Hydro.

They intervened to push through $1 billion in spending for smart meters that will neither make nor save energy, and they have insisted that there is no debt crisis at the corporation, despite billions stashed in deferral accounts that future generations will have to contend with. Ironically, hiding even more debt in deferral accounts is one of the options floated to deal with the rate shock crisis.

The government also made sure rate hikes like the one we’re seeing now off the table until after the election.

 

In 2012, the government cancelled a B.C. Utilities Commission rate hearing and arbitrarily setting the rate increase at 1.4 per cent – an action that caused B.C. Hydro to defer yet more costs to future years.

But this government’s most disastrous interference has been tying up $50 billion in private power contracts, which continue to force the province to buy energy at high rates and sell it at a loss during peak periods.

Sadly, it took a leaked document to force the government to admit to British Columbians the true state of B.C. Hydro’s fiscal problems, and their cancellation of the legislature’s fall session will mean they will continue to avoid accountability for this and many other challenges facing the province.

With B.C. Hydro in chaos, the budget sliding towards a deficit, critical services being cut, and a jobs plan that, at its two-year mark, has netted a loss of 9,500 private-sector jobs, there is no shortage of work to be done.

We think British Columbians deserve a government that is accountable to British Columbians for its campaign promises and for its failure to manage energy in this province.

 

John Horgan, New Democrat energy critic and

MLA for Juan De Fuca.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sidney company tastes sweet success with sugar kelp

Cascadia Seaweed is experiencing rapid growth after launching six months ago

Westin Bear Mountain invests $2 million to renovate newly-named spa

‘Amatista Spa’ has yet to announce official opening date

North Saanich floats tougher policies for buoys and moorings near Tsehum Harbour

Municipality also considers additional collaboration with Sidney and other communities

HarbourCats team up with Bastion Books to bring back Harvey’s Reading Club

HarbourCats and Bastions Books offer students free game tickets in an effort to promote child literacy

Central Saanich newspaper carrier gets letter of thanks, chocolates from her community for note

Ava Verscheure started her first very job by introducing herself to residents along newspaper route

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

B.C. VIEWS: Inaction on pipeline protests not a viable response

Columnist Frank Bucholtz on how the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute got so bad

PHOTOS: Top 10 memories of the 2010 Olympics

Black Press Media’s Jenna Hauck, shares some of her most memorable images of 2010 Winter Games

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Most Read