Province to meet with BC Hydro over pricing, billing

Officials will discuss potential changes to deferred debt, past price increases and two-tier billing early in the new year.

The premier of B.C. says his government will be meeting with BC Hydro officials in the new year to discuss a number of issues including deferred debt, the steady increase in electricity pricing and also the much maligned two-tier billing process.

Speaking to reporters this week, John Horgan acknowledged a “host of issues” at BC Hydro and levelled his criticism at the former governing Liberals who he says had left the crown corporation “far from under control”.

“I’m committed to making sure that I’m protecting rate-payers from rate shock, which we’ve seen. Over the past decade our rates have been going up far faster than the cost of inflation; far faster than other jurisdictions.”

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With snow already falling in many parts of the province, Horgan said he remains critical of how the BC Liberals introduced the two-tiered pricing program, even encouraging residents to get rid of their wood stoves and converting to electric heat — those same residents who are now seeing their rates go through the roof.

“I don’t think the two-tiered system takes into consideration the diversity of family units in B.C. and I think if you want to use it as a demand management technique, to reduce peoples use of electricity, that’s a good thing,” Horgan continued.

“But if the consequence is that every month everyone’s paying more, everyone’s going past that first tier, then I think we need to take a look at it.”

Site C dam

Holding firm on his election commitment to make a decision on Site C by the end of 2017, the B.C. Utilities Commission released its independent report on Wednesday, finding that the final cost “may” exceed $10 billion.

Horgan’s government instructed BCUC to come up with cost estimates for completing the dam, pausing construction for a more thorough review of alternatives and future electricity demand, or stopping it and restoring the project area.

The report estimates the cost of shutting down Site C and remediating the project area to be $1.8 billion, plus the cost of finding alternative energy sources to meet demand, on top of the $2 billion already spent. Choosing to suspend construction would add at least $3.6 billion to the final cost according to the report.

FROM THE VAULT: BC Hydro rates going up 28 per cent over five years

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