BC Hydro rates going up 28% over five years

The first of a series of BC Hydro rate increases takes effect in April 2014, adding $8 a month to the average residential power bill

Energy Minister Bill Bennett and BC Hydro CEO Charles Reid outline 10-year plan for BC Hydro in Victoria Monday.

VICTORIA – The first of a series of BC Hydro rate increases takes effect in April 2014, adding $8 a month to the average residential power bill.

Rate increases of nine per cent next year and six per cent in 2015 are the highest of a series of increases over five years announced Monday by Energy Minister Bill Bennett. The B.C. Utilities Commission will be directed to set rate increases that total up to 28 per cent over the next five years, then determine what rates are needed for the following five years, Bennett said.

Commercial rates are going up the same amount.

Bennett acknowledged that rate increases are being kept low by using a “rate smoothing” account that defers more than $1 billion of the utility’s debt. That account won’t begin to be paid down until after 2020.

BC Hydro CEO Charles Reid said the latest rate increases are driven mainly by a large increase in capital spending, including seismic refits of old dams at Campbell River and Ruskin, turbine expansions at two Kootenay power dams and other upgrades. BC Hydro’s “big build” era of 1973 to 1982 produced rate increases totalling 113 per cent.

BC Hydro cited an annual survey by Hydro Quebec that shows BC Hydro customers currently pay the third lowest rates in North America. Montreal and Winnipeg customers pay less, and Seattle and Miami residents pay slightly more.

NDP energy critic John Horgan said Bennett avoided the impact of private power purchases on BC Hydro’s rate increases.

“We’re going to have increased debt for the next five years,” Horgan said. “They’re going to continue to take a dividend from a company that can’t afford to pay one, and the consequences for people are going to be higher costs.”

Bennett said the 10-year plan calls for the government to “wean itself off” dividends from the utility, but the five years of reductions don’t start until 2018.

The government has instructed BC Hydro to shut down the gas-fired Burrard Thermal generating station in Port Moody by 2016, saving an estimated $14 million a year. The forecast electricity surplus over the 10-year plan allows that, but the facility will continue to be staffed for its grid stability function, Reid said.

 

Just Posted

Columbia River Treaty to be renegotiated in early 2018

News came in a Tweet from the U.S. Department of State

Site C dam goes ahead, cost estimate now up to $10.7 billion

Premier John Horgan says Christy Clark left him no other choice

Castlegar Rebels take flight in win over Grand Forks

Team speed was too much for the visiting Grand Forks Border Bruins to handle.

Property crime on the rise in Grand Forks: RCMP

Grand Forks RCMP sat down with the Gazette to talk property crime and community solutions.

RDKB elects Russell as board chair

Grace McGregor will be vice-chair of the board.

VIDEO: New series takes in-depth look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Black Press takes a hard look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Strong economy fuels housing sales in B.C.: report

Economist says demand for houses is being supported by a large number of millennials entering the market

Tequila, hammers and knives: what not to bring on an airplane

Vancouver International Airport staff provide tips on travelling during the holidays

New fighter-jet competition to have national ‘economic interest’ requirement

Trudeau government wants to replace Canada’s aging CF-18s with 88 new fighters by as early as 2025

The top-binged shows on Netflix in 2017

Which show did you cheat on your spouse with by watching ahead?

B.C. polygamous leader argues charge should be dropped in charter challenge

Winston Blackmore argues some of the evidence shouldn’t be used against him

LETTER: Proportional representation makes votes count

Fair Vote Canada representative responds to Tom Fletcher column

B.C. dog owners warn about chain collars after puppy almost strangled

Young Rottweiler pup couldn’t breathe after another dog caught tooth on his collar

Accused NYC subway bomber expected to face federal charges

Akayed Ullah, 27, was charged Tuesday with terrorism and weapons related charges

Most Read