Massive hydro rate hike punishes ratepayers for Liberal mismanagement

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VICTORIA – A devastating hydro rate hike announced today is the result of more than a decade of Liberal mismanagement of our utility, say the New Democrats.

“The Liberal government’s 15.6-per-cent hydro rate hike over the next two years means the average customer will pay $166 more per year,” said New Democrat energy critic John Horgan. “British Columbians who heat their home with electricity will face a much larger hike to their bill.

“For some families in the North, it may mean the choice between being warm in the winter or a healthy meal every night for the family.”

Horgan said after only the first year of rate hikes businesses will also pay about $240 more per year, and the average annual hike for large industrial users is a massive $1.7 million.

The Liberals blame infrastructure needs for the rate hike, but Horgan says that’s only part of the story. He pointed out that leaked documents released this fall show the cost of new electricity supply from private power producers has risen faster than any other costs.

“The Liberal government has locked us into contracts with private power producers that force us to buy very expensive power even when we don’t need it. Then we sell it back to the open market at a huge loss. This buy high, sell low scheme is another reason ratepayers are seeing a major hike to their bill today.”

Horgan said today’s announcement ensures this Liberal mismanagement will continue far into the future.

“The Liberals also announced that they intend to open yet another deferral account that will hide even more debt, and they have signalled they intend to raid dividends off phantom profits for up to ten more years.”

Horgan said the Liberals need to bring back the independent oversight of the B.C. Utilities Commission, saying the removal of that oversight in rate setting and spending billions of dollars of projects such as Site C and the bungled Smart Meter program was a huge mistake.

“The B.C. Utilities Commission was set up to protect ratepayers and to protect governments from themselves. The Liberals signalled today that they’ll continue to keep the BCUC from doing their job looking out for the public interest.”