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

Painting by Winston Churchill of lake near Field sells for $87,000

Churchill had painted the work during 1929 visit before becoming UK prime minister

Banked Slalom marks first of its kind event at Kicking Horse

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort hosted its first ever snowboard only event last… Continue reading

Women in business: Peggy chalmers is a staple to Golden’s community

What began as a trip to visit Golden in the 1970s evolved… Continue reading

Women’s Day is a reason to celebrate this year

International Women’s Day is celebrated across the world on March 8, but… Continue reading

Boo the bear is done with winter

Just like the groundhog checks for his shadow to predict how much… Continue reading

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

New lead in one of six B.C. searches that remain unresolved

New details in case of couple who’d been flying from Cranbook to Kamloops when plane disappeared

B.C. announces $175 million to cut hip, knee surgery wait times

Premier John Horgan said money will allow for a 34-per-cent increase in surgeries

Starbucks to unveil latest creation: crystal ball frappuccino

The limited-edition drink will be available starting March 22

Eight B.C. restaurants among website’s top 100 in Canada for night out

Seven in Vancouver and one in White Rock make OpenTable’s list of popular spots

B.C.-pioneered wood construction on a roll internationally

Washington state considers mandatory engineered wood for public buildings

Cops say gun-toting robbers used fake police lights to pull over victims

Information wanted on North Shuswap robbery, police impersonation, burnt vehicle, motorhome theft.

BCHL Today: Surrey Eagles and Powell River Kings close to advancing

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Most Read