B.C. taxpayers should be very interested in both the government ordered behavior of BC Hydro

I read Liberal MLA Bennett’s response to Steelworker’s President Hanson’s letter with interest the other day.  Without getting bogged down in the back and forth between these two gentleman, I feel that B.C. taxpayers should be very interested in both the government ordered behavior of BC Hydro and where that behavior is likely to lead us.

In 2002, the Liberal government of the day, of which Mr. Bennett was an MLA, unveiled its Energy Plan.  One part of that plan forbids BC Hydro from building new generation assets, and changes it from a producer power into a purchaser of privately generated power.

In 2006, a call to purchase 2700 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity was raised to 7,125 GWh with little public consultation. To make matters worse, much of this power was purchased at an incredible premium. While power had been selling at between $50 to $55/KWh at the time, the final purchase price was $87.50/KWh. [How this is] better than the 33 per cent markup has never been adequately explained.

Worse yet these contracts are indexed across the life of the deal, meaning that by 2051 the price will rise to $124/GWh.  Doesn’t it seem reasonable that BC Hydro could have built new generating capacity itself, investing in B.C. infrastructure that would be owned by and benefited by the people who live and work here, than to hand over huge sums of ratepayer money to private companies? Companies which have used publicly funded research information to stake claim to wildly undervalued hydro assets.

BC Hydro is a publicly owned and operated crown asset that has returned millions upon millions of dollars to the public purse. It does seem that since the Liberal government in B.C. took power, the government’s direction has been to channel the flow of money away from the taxpayer and into the pockets of private companies and individuals.

I am not an investigative reporter or an expert in hydroelectric power policy but there are many well-written and well-researched articles in print and on the Internet that cast doubt on Mr. Bennett’s claim that his government has handled BC Hydro in an ethical and responsible way. I urge you to look into it yourself and come to your own conclusions about this matter.

The articles Run of River – Hydroelectric Projects in B.C. Create New Gold Rush by Arthur Caldicott of the Watershed Sentinel and BC Hydro’s Amazingly Bad Deal for Ratepayers by John Calvert of Citizens For Public Power are a great place to start.

Crown assets are our assets, yours and mine, our children’s and our grandchildren’s. Once sold, they are gone forever and any person or government that would tell you that goose meat is better than golden eggs is not being honest with you.

Trevor Fairweather

Fernie, B.C.