VICTORIA — Leaked documents have revealed that the B.C. Liberal government knew massive rate increases were in store at B.C. Hydro, but hid that information until after the election, say New Democrats. The documents show British Columbians can expect to see a shocking 26 per cent hike in their hydro bill by 2016, a hike that will add $273 per year to the average residential customer’s bill.
“This is politics at its worst,” said New Democrat energy critic John Horgan. “New Democrats have been saying for years that a day of reckoning would come courtesy of the Liberal government’s mismanagement of B.C. Hydro, but during the election the Liberal government continued to tell British Columbians they had the situation under control. Now we know they never did.”
Horgan says the coming hikes are a result of Liberal policies at B.C. Hydro, which brought in expensive private power contracts that force B.C. to buy energy at high rates and sell it at a loss during peak periods.
“Expensive private power contracts, billions in hydro debt hidden in deferral accounts, sidelining the independent B.C. Utilities Commission, an 84 per cent cost overrun on the Northwest Transmission Line: there is no question that the Liberal government has mismanaged B.C. Hydro. Now, we will all pay the price,” said Horgan.
Before and during the election, Liberals told British Columbians that rates were under control. 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 government has an accountability problem,” said Horgan. “It took a leaked document to force them to tell British Columbians the true state of B.C. Hydro’s fiscal problems.”
Horgan noted that British Columbians elected the government on a series of promises that it has already failed to keep.
“This government promised a balanced budget, but produced a deficit budget with a marketing plan. They promised to protect critical services, but instead they are cutting programs. They promised a debt-free province, but they have racked up debt at the fastest rate in B.C. history. They promised jobs, but their jobs plan has actually killed 9,500 jobs in the private sector since it was launched two years ago,” said Horgan.
“By cancelling the fall session and failing to provide the public with important information about hydro rates in the interest of protecting their political future, they are trying to avoid being held accountable. British Columbians deserve better.”
New Democrats are calling for the B.C. Liberal government to acknowledge its political management of B.C. Hydro has been a failed experiment, end the sidelining of the independent experts at the B.C. Utilities Commission, and be accountable to British Columbians.