B.C. Hydro documents show massive surplus of expensive power

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VICTORIA – B.C. Hydro documents released last week show a massive surplus of power that is costing the Crown corporation hundreds of millions of dollars every year, say the New Democrats.

“B.C. Hydro will lose nearly $300 million this year alone thanks to Liberal government policies that have resulted in high priced long-term contracts for power we didn’t need,” said New Democrat energy critic John Horgan.

“The Liberals tried to bury this information every time it looked like it might be uncovered. First they cancelled the B.C. Utilities Commission rate hearings in May 2012, then they put off B.C. Hydro’s Integrated Resource Plan until after the election. But now, in B.C. Hydro’s own documents submitted to try to make the case for the Site C dam, we see that B.C. Hydro has a massive surplus of power that is costing hundreds of millions each year.”

Horgan said B.C. Hydro’s Site C Environmental Impact Statement shows a power surplus of 5,200 GWh for 2013, and an expected surplus of 5500 GWh in 2015.

“The Liberals locked us into high-priced long-term contracts for independent power projects that require B.C. Hydro to buy the power whether we need it or not. These documents show we are a very long way from needing it, and the cost is enormous,” said Horgan.

B.C. Hydro’s 2012 Annual Report lists long-term energy purchase obligations of 15,157 GWh at a cost of $1.422 billion for 2012/13, which amounts to $94 per MWh. B.C. Hydro’s figures also forecast an average sale price for electricity of $37 per MWh. The difference between the purchase price and sale price is $57 per MWh, resulting in a $296 million loss this year alone.

“The Liberals can’t hide any longer,” said Horgan. “Ratepayers and taxpayers will be on the hook for years to come because of disastrous energy policy under the Liberal government. It shows yet again that the Liberals’ $15 million ad campaign saying they’re good fiscal managers is patently false.”

Horgan said it isn’t just the Liberals’ insistence on signing expensive private power contracts that prove their incompetence when it comes to managing hydro.

“The Liberals have allowed debt at B.C. Hydro to skyrocket, and are allowing a growing portion of today’s debt to be hidden in the books for future years,” said Horgan. “It’s one thing to use deferral accounts in a responsible way to help keep rates stable, but it’s just poor management to allow those accounts to grow to $4.1 billion with no plan to pay it back.”

Horgan said the overall debt growth is also staggering. According to the Ministry of Finance’s second quarter report, B.C. Hydro’s debt load will be $14.5 billion this year, up from $6.7 billion in 2002.

Horgan said it’s no wonder people feel it’s time for a change for the better.

Adrian Dix and B.C.’s New Democrats will take practical steps to get B.C. Hydro back on its feet and bring greater stability and proper long-term planning to B.C. energy policy, and will restore the role of the BCUC to ensure independent assessment of BC Hydro’s actual fiscal and energy needs.

Documents are attached below.

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