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

Mainly cloudy skies ahead for Friday

Plus a look ahead at your weekend

Expect delays as Highway 1 widening in Langford begins this month

Year-long project to widen, add meridians between West Shore Parkway and Leigh Road

Ivy pull, beach clean-up targeted for McNeill Bay

Volunteers aim for big Saturday to restore McNeill Bay

VicPD investigates stabbing near Selkirk Montessori school

Victim in potentially life-threatening condition

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should the province step in to upgrade the road to Bamfield?

The death of two University of Victoria students on a bus bound… Continue reading

Horvat paces Canucks to 6-1 pre-season win over Oilers

Vancouver improves to 3-1 in NHL exhibition action

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

Island contestant competes on Great Canadian Baking Show

Andrea Nauta auditioned for the show before but was lucky second time around

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

Most Read