The Liberals’ latest smear campaign against New Democrat energy policy is nothing but a flimsy attempt to distract from their own record of failures.
It’s no wonder that they are desperate to change the channel from their record of mismanagement. Here are just a few examples of how the Liberals have driven our public utility to the brink:
Constant interference with B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) oversight:
In 2008, the B.C. Liberals introduced The Clean Energy Act, legislation that exempted billions of dollars' worth of projects from independent BCUC oversight.
- “The act makes several changes to B.C. Utilities Commission's role as Hydro regulator, including a decision to exempt more than $10 billion worth of public projects that until now would have been subject to commission approval.” – Scott Simpson, Vancouver Sun, April 29, 2010
Then, after exempting most of the spending at B.C. Hydro from the independent scrutiny of the Utilities Commission, the Liberals again intervened in the business of the BCUC, cancelling public hearings into B.C. Hydro. By cancelling these hearings the Liberals are preventing the public from knowing the true state of B.C Hydro till after the next election.
- The B.C. government has cancelled public hearings into B.C. Hydro's rates one month before the review was set to begin." – Justine Hunter, Globe and Mail, May 23, 2012
- "There is a huge loss of transparency. By the time we get to the bottom of some of these costs, it'll be too late. There should be a rate review, not just of industrial rates, but that's why you have the Utilities Commission, that's what they are supposed to do." – Richard Stout, executive director of the Association of Major Power Customers of B.C, Globe and Mail, May 23, 2012
Excessive use of deferral accounts that will put undue burden on future ratepayers:
The Liberals' use of deferral accounts to hide the true state of the utility’s finances from the public has left B.C. Hydro in a precarious financial position.
- "I am concerned that there does not appear to be a plan to reduce the balance of these accounts, let alone halt their growth. Rate-regulated accounts must be managed carefully. If overused, rate-regulated deferrals can mask the true cost of doing business, distort the financial condition of an enterprise and place undue burdens on future ratepayers." – B.C. Auditor General John Doyle, BC Hydro: The Effects of Rate-Regulated Accounting, Oct. 2011
- "Look, the Liberals have been making very, very heavy use of what are called deferral accounts, which basically means that today's spending gets put off to future years and accumulates. It's been going on at a massive level. The Auditor General came up with a memorable phrase. He said it's like a rat in a snake; it has to be digested eventually; it's going to take a while."– Vaughn Palmer, CKNW, Feb. 17, 2012
Selling power at a loss because of bad deals with private power producers:
In 2009, the B.C. Utilities Commission ruled that the Liberals’ ‘buy high, sell low’ policy of overbuying power from private producers was not in the public interest. Yet instead of listening, the Liberals rammed through the Clean Energy Act, which mandated “energy self-sufficiency,” and exempted these projects from BCUC scrutiny.
- The B.C. Utilities Commission shocked the industry and its government backers by declaring B.C. Hydro's long-term plan for private run-of-river hydro and wind projects to be "not in the public interest" and told the Crown corporation to come back with a new plan by next year." – Michael Smyth, The Province, Aug. 2, 2009
The results were seen in 2012 with B.C. Hydro spilling water over our public dams instead of generating power with it while we bought energy from private producers at a premium.
- “Hydro is forced to buy from IPP operators…even as its own generation stations wait on standby. For example, at Peace Canyon generating station downstream of W.A.C. Bennett Dam on the Peace River, the primary source of hydroelectricity for all of B.C., the turbines are sitting idle for the first time in a decade. Prices paid to IPPs vary by season, from an average winter high of $100 to a springtime low of about $60. By contrast, the Bonneville price in recent weeks has averaged less than $20 US.” – Scott Simpson, Vancouver Sun, May 11, 2012
John Horgan, New Democrat energy critic: "New Democrats are deeply concerned about the mess the Liberals are leaving at B.C. Hydro. We will continue to raise concerns as we see them and do our part to protect the public interest.”
Adrian Dix and B.C.’s New Democrats are committed to restoring the regulatory role of the B.C. Utilities Commission and reviewing existing independent power contracts to determine whether they are in the public interest.