The 80-year-old Ruskin dam and powerhouse is getting an upgrade expected to cost up to $850 million. B.C.'s auditor general has criticized BC Hydro for deferring debt for projects such as the Fraser Valley dam

Hydro rates may rise due to debt

The B.C. Utilities Commission has approved an extra 2.5 per cent interim increase in BC Hydro rates

The B.C. Utilities Commission has approved an extra 2.5 per cent interim increase in BC Hydro rates, which means a seven per cent increase in electricity bills starting April 1.

The commission’s decision is a setback for the B.C. government, which conducted a cost-cutting review of BC Hydro last year that cut 700 jobs to bring the 2012 rate increase down below four per cent.

The decision is still an interim rate increase. BC Hydro can argue for a reduction, which would result in a rebate on electricity bills if it is granted by the commission later this year.

The commission ruled that the latest 2.5 per cent increase, about $5 a month on the average residential bill, is needed to pay down BC Hydro’s ballooning deferred debt, which was identified in October by B.C. Auditor General John Doyle.

Doyle reviewed BC Hydro’s books and found that as of March 2011, $2.2 billion of the utility’s debt was placed in deferral accounts. Deferred expenses were forecast to grow to $5 billion by 2017.

Doyle said deferral accounts for major capital costs are an acceptable practice to smooth out rate increases, but BC Hydro’s use of it runs ahead of other Canadian utilities. The practice can “mask the true cost of doing business, creating the appearance of profitability where none actually exists, and place undue burdens on future taxpayers,” he said.

Doyle’s conclusion that “there does not appear to be a plan to reduce the balance of these accounts” is supported by the utilities commission decision.

NDP energy critic John Horgan said the auditor’s report showed the B.C. Liberal government was using BC Hydro as an “ATM machine,” collecting $463 million in revenue last year and forcing the utility to pile up debt to do it.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Creekside Apartments gets utility charge relief from Port Hardy council

The apartment building is undergoing restoration from a fire that happened back in 2017.

LETTER: It’s a labour of love keeping the Port Alice golf course running

‘We North Islanders are indeed fortunate to have two gorgeous golf club’

Mowi’s B.C. salmon farms achieve environmental certification from independent watchdog

Aquaculture Steward Council certification complies with 500 sustainability and social measures

Island Health provides Baby Beds for infants north of the Malahat

A safe place for baby to sleep is key to reduce sleep-related deaths

Author chronicles churches built by pioneers in the Salish Sea

B.C. author Liz Bryan preserving a little bit of pioneer history in her latest book

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

Most Read