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

Port Hardy council to apply for poverty reduction program grant funding

How should the District of Port Hardy deal with the issue of poverty?

North Island Bantam Eagles rebound from first loss with two big wins at home

The Eagles took down the top ranked Tier 1 Comox Valley Chiefs 5-3 on Sunday at the Chilton Arena.

Salvation Army’s kettle campaign kicks off Nov. 21 in the North Island

The Salvation Army still needs more volunteers to help make the campaign easier to run.

The Wardens play the Gate House Theatre in Port McNeill

The evening was not only a night of music, but also of storytelling.

LETTER: Woss helps out in time of need

“I just wanted to acknowledge the wonderful people we met in Woss”

Bye bye Bei Bei: Giant panda born in U.S. zoo heads to China

Panda heads back to China as part of cooperative breeding program

B.C. man gets 23 years for murder of Belgian tourist near Boston Bar

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

Salvation Army kettle campaign targets $200,000 for Island residents in need

Goal is to raise $250,000 this year for Vancouver Island residents needing support

‘Very disrespectful’: B.C. first responder irked by motorists recording collisions on cellphones

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue deputy chief challenges motorists to break the habit

Daily cannabis linked to reduction in opioid use: B.C. researchres

Researchers looked at a group of 1,152 people in Vancouver who reported substance use and chronic pain

Port Alberni rallies for mill workers

Fundraisers helping ease the sting of five months without work

Island student lobbies school board for dress code consistency

Jaylene Kuo contacted school trustees after seeing dress guidelines at brother’s school

Bids down, costs up on Highway 1, B.C. independent contractors say

Rally protests NDP government’s union-only public construction

Members of little people community applaud change to drop ‘midget’ term

‘It’s not about sensitivity,’ says Allan Redford, the president of the Little People of Canada

Most Read