B.C. Liberals directing independent power regulator to rubber stamp smart meter fees

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VICTORIA – After years of chaos and mismanagement of their smart meter program, the Liberal government is finally seeking the advice of the B.C. Utilities Commission – but only if they do as they’re told – say the B.C. New Democrats.

“The Liberals barred the B.C. Utilities Commission from reviewing this billion-dollar boondoggle when it really mattered. Now that they need sign-off on Hydro’s opt-out fees, they seem to think B.C.’s independent power regulator is there to rubber-stamp their policies. It’s insulting,” said New Democrat energy critic John Horgan.

The energy minister has directed the BCUC to review the fees for clients that wish to opt out of the B.C. Liberals’ smart meter program, but won’t allow the independent regulator to reject the fees outright or look any further into the billion-dollar smart meter program.

Horgan said by using a special direction the minister is saying BC Hydro has done their math correctly. That is a poor substitute for independent review and makes a farce of our independent regulator. This is another sign of the Liberal government’s failure to manage B.C. Hydro.

“If the Liberals had allowed the BCUC to do its job and fully evaluate this program from the beginning, we would not be where we are today,” said Horgan. “Instead, this government muscled out the independent regulator and tried to manage B.C. Hydro politically, with disastrous results.”

British Columbians recently learned that they could be in store for a shocking 26 per cent rate hike on their hydro bill by 2016, said Horgan, after the government had insisted before and during the election that rates were under control.

“B.C. Hydro rate shock is only the latest indication that the Liberal management of B.C. Hydro has gone very far off course,” said Horgan. “We have only begun to feel the effects of policies that sidelined the independent experts, signed the province up for expensive private power contracts, and hid billions in debt in deferral accounts.”