Re: “Get ready for Hydro rate hikes” (B.C. Views, Surrey Leader, July 9).
Yes, the BC Hydro rate increase tsunami is coming after the earthquake of B.C. government debt.
This will hit lower income people – hard. All levels of government are increasing fees and service rates rather than raise income taxes on those who can contribute more and pay more property tax.
I don’t want to see any drastic action to increase job loss, but governments at all levels need to limit their spending growth to the level of inflation and get borrowing under control.
End electric car subsidies
Tom Fletcher’s column reiterates what we have been told for some time. A large part of the future BC Hydro rate increase is caused by the fact that expansion of generating facilities delivers new power at a rate higher than today’s rates.
However, the government is bribing people to switch to electric cars, contributing to consumption increases which will cause rate increases for us all.
Provincial consumption is also high because, although the E-Plus contracts with residential customers expired decades ago, the government is choosing to grandfather the “half-price electric heat” offer for political reasons. Also, some large government buildings are still being heated this way.
At the same time, the minister is telling us that we are producing more natural gas than we need, so we should be consuming large amounts of energy to compress it and ship it overseas. Should the first step not be to switch to natural gas-powered cars, natural gas heating for almost all homes where possible, and for all large government buildings? The grant money for electric car purchases should be diverted to incentives for this move. Right now, electric cars are causing the burning of fuels at distant power plants anyway, because that is where our “last watt” comes from.
New BC Hydro investment needed
While NDP energy critic John Horgan asserts there is no business case for a nation building project like the Northwest Transmission Line, a line that will bring power to a huge part of the province currently running off diesel generators, our government believes investments such as this are exactly what BC Hydro should be doing.
This project will open up world class mineral deposits and support new mines, like Red Chris, one of the top 10 copper gold deposits in the world. In fact, the Mining Association of BC estimates the line could attract more than $15 billion in mining investment, creating up to 10,000 jobs and generating $300 million in annual tax revenues. None of this happens unless we build the line to provide the power these mines need.
We need to ensure we have a diverse grid that can provide reliable power today, and into the future. That’s why we continue to support new, cleaner sources of power such as wind and run of river. Do these sources produce power at a higher cost than what our heritage assets do? Of course they do. Like most other things, it costs more today to produce power than it did decades ago. But these sources are cleaner than alternatives such as coal or gas and less expensive than building brand new hydroelectric dams.
We are investing in projects that are powering our needs today and ensuring we will have the power we need for our future. The unprecedented opportunity in liquefied natural gas and other growing sectors such as mining must be supported with stable, secure power. This is what we are building.
You can’t make these kinds of legacy investments that will benefit all British Columbians without putting pressure on rates. Contrary to some reports, BC Hydro is managing their capital projects within their planned budget. There are a couple of projects over budget but most are under budget.
I have been very clear that my mandate, as given to me by the premier, is to minimize rate increases while continuing to make historic investments in Hydro’s infrastructure to grow our economy. I am committed to accomplishing this goal.