A recent review of B.C. Hydro’s 32 per cent rate increase application suggested that B.C. Hydro could keep hydro rates low by putting off infrastructure renewal projects and importing cheap electricity from outside the province; even though much of that imported power would be coming from dirty coal-fired generating plants.
In my opinion, such a course of action would be very short sighted and repeat a costly mistake made by the NDP government of the 1990s.
Back then, the NDP government froze B.C. Hydro rates for purely political reasons and thereby starved B.C. Hydro from the financial resources needed to keep the province’s aging hydro dams, distribution and transmission systems in top working order.
Currently, B.C. Hydro has more than $14 billion worth of infrastructure upgrade and renewal projects that have either already been completed, are in progress or under consideration, including the $7.9 billion Site C dam project.
These infrastructure renewal projects, along with conservation efforts and acquiring renewably-sourced electricity from independent producers, are key to restoring B.C. to electricity self-sufficiency and allowing our province to regain its status as a net electricity exporter; something which has always been to the financial advantage of the province.
Repeating the NDP’s mistake of the 1990s and postponing investments in our province’s valuable but rapidly aging clean energy assets, as well as putting off investments in new sources of electricity, just to maintain artificially cheap electricity rates is short sighted and not fair to future generations who will pay the price.
Staying the course with a forward-thinking policy of electricity self-sufficiency will allow us to leave a legacy of clean energy for future generations and affordable hydro rates as they pertain to the future cost of electricity.
Let’s not allow ourselves to fall into the cheap electricity trap the way the NDP did in the 1990s.
The true cost of such a mistake is inestimable and should not have to be borne by future generations.
David Field, Co-spokesperson
B.C. Citizens for Green Energy