BC Hydro under threat of political interference

Provincial requirements suspect in pressure placed on public utility.

It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to surmise BC Hydro is being set up to take a fall.

The BC Liberal government drove British Columbians into a tizzy when they outsourced some of the Crown corporation’s operations to a U.S. company. The move was viewed as the initial push to deregulate and privatize the utility, and that didn’t sit well with voters. A province-wide survey showed more than 62 per cent of the public wanted to keep the utility as their own.

Regardless, the BC government proceeded to put the utility at a disadvantage. They made it so BC Hydro must buy power from independent power producers, beyond what is needed and at a cost higher than market rates, and then sell surplus power to California at rates less than what British Columbians are paying.

Meanwhile, BC Hydro was allowed to defer paying more than $2 billion in operating costs, resulting in artificially low energy prices that are bound to catch up with hydro users sooner or later.

Then there’s the smart meter. The politics surrounding the introduction and implementation of these devices mirrors the BC Liberal’s handling of the HST. Add to that various health concerns relating to the wireless devices, the fact they are not CSA or Industry Canada approved, the risk of potential hacking, and the threat of sudden rate hikes, such as those already experienced by residents in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island, and the rush to install smart meters doesn’t appear very smart for BC Hydro.

The public’s disdain for the mandated meter wasn’t helped any when municipal leaders voted in favour of a moratorium on their installation, only to be told tough luck by hydro and Energy Minister Rich Coleman. Perhaps the current grassroots push for a moratorium will be more successful. Though it may be more beneficial if energies were expended on letting the public utility operate more freely from political interference.