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

Nature Wise: How are Canada’s birds doing and do we even care?

Columnist Bob Handfield, president of the South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club

Mix of sun and cloud for the Okanagan-Shuswap-Similkameen region

Environment Canada is forecasting a chance of showers with a risk of thunderstorms for the region

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Gusty winds and scattered clouds.

Temperatures are expected to reach the high 20s under cloudy skies.

South Okanagan real estate market continues to stabilize, millennials eager to become homeowners

SOREB President Dori Lionello said millenials are carefully watching the market

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Sun, chances of showers continue through weekend

Environment Canada forecasts mixes of sun, clouds and rain to start the weekend

VIDEO: Okanagan Valley weekday weather update

Environment Canada says it’s going to be a rainy week

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

Okanagan man rides bike 654km to Alberta for mental health, pipeline awareness

Cycle 2 Change 2019 was made to open up conversation about mental health and Trans-Mountain Pipeline

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Dump truck lifts power lines causing fire near South Okanagan school

Emergency responders dealt with two incidents at the same time near KVR Middle School

Car thief to be sentenced in Kelowna B.C. Supreme Court

Stanley Nickason is set to plead guilty on multiple charges

UPDATED: Lane closed after fatal collision on Highway 97 east of Falkland

A man in his 60s is dead after a single vehicle crash on July 15

Health Canada revokes licences of B.C.-based pot producer Agrima Botanicals

The agency said it notified the company of a suspension in November due to non-compliance with regulations

Most Read