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.

 

Just Posted

Authorities call for calm as fires burn near Zeballos

Authorities are asking residents not to panic as several wildfires burn near… Continue reading

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Port Hardy Fire Rescue knocks down wildland fire

PHFR members responded to the scene, located the fire, and contained it to the immediate area.

Second annual Port McNeill & District Chamber of Commerce golf tournament

Golf Holes #2 and #6 are Hole-in-One opportunities, each with a cash prize of $25,000!

No taxes paid by Neucel, Doug Bondue Arena in Port Alice closes

“Neucel owes us a million dollars and it’s pretty hard to stay status quo when you’re short a million.”

Interim GoFundMe payments approved in Humboldt Broncos crash

$50,000 to be given to each of the 13 survivors and each family of the 16 people who died

Altidore nets 3 as Toronto drubs Whitecaps 5-2

Vancouver falls 7-4 on aggregate in Canadian Championship final

Ottawa intervenes to get B.C. ball player, 13, to Little League World Series

Before immigration issue was resolved, Dio Gama was out practicing the game he loves Wednesday

Pet goldfish invades small B.C. lake

Pinecrest Lake is located between Whistler and Squamish

Mounties deployed to help B.C. communities affected by wildfires

RCMP officers heading to places particularly within central, northern and southern B.C.

Quebec sets aside $900 million for companies hurt by U.S. tariffs

Premier Philippe Couillard says his government will make $863 million available over five years

B.C. company patents Sasquatch, the country’s first homegrown hops plant

Created by Hops Connect, Sasquatch hops are being grown commercially for the first time in B.C.

Farmers ponder impact of alternatives to pesticides being banned

The nicotine-based pesticides scientists have linked to a rising number of honey bee deaths will be phased out of use in Canada over a three year period starting in 2021.

Most Read