Today I announced my candidacy in the District of North Vancouver for election to SD44. The website normfarrell.ca provides details. Thanks to the many people who’ve already expressed support.
In the current year, BC Hydro expects to export electricity for a price of C$26.50 per megawatt hour. Compare that to the C$91.40/MWh paid independent power producers in the fiscal year ended March, 2018, an amount 28% higher than five years before. Bank of Canada puts inflation at 7% and the average market price barely changed between FY 2013 and FY 2018.
The analysis by Richard McCandless would be headline material if corporate media were paying attention to the public interest. Burdens imposed on ratepayers measure in the billions and traditional journalists — including the ones who reported for years on far smaller sums lost to fast ferries — report almost no part of the news.
BC’s fossil fuel industry benefited from credits worth $902 million in fiscal year 2018 and $4.2 billion in the past five years. Each of the jobs in oil and gas extraction cost BC taxpayers $185,000. A similar amount spent on reducing dependence on fossil fuels would have been more effective in creating jobs and protecting the environment.
BC Hydro and the energy ministry employ many people paid salaries of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. But, these people don’t work to save ratepayers’ money but to convince customers that the 80% rate increase between 2007 and and 2018 was appropriate and the huge increases still to come are necessary. We’re paying one load of operatives to remove money from our pockets and another load to convince us that all is well and we as the victims should be happy. Monday, I watched a CTV news report that featured a citizen complaining about 25¢ being added to his monthly electricity bill for the Customer Crisis Fund. The consumer would really be angry if he stopped to think about the real losses he and others suffer through malfeasance and mismanagement.
Tax expenditures are subsidies delivered through the taxation system. These promote policy goals of government but are subject to far less scrutiny and disclosure than direct spending. The primary beneficiaries of tax expenditures are Canada’s wealthiest citizens and corporations. In British Columbia, natural gas producers, many with foreign ownership, are milking a very generous cash cow.
The Fraser Institute declares Tax Freedom Day each year. It is an inaccurate trick to further interests of the millionaires and billionaires for whom the “charity” works. Many of those people use overseas tax shelters so their tax freedom day falls in January. Don’t expect Fraser Institute to mention Earth Overshoot Day, “the date when we (all of humanity) have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year.” Do not expect Canada’s mass media to pay much attention either
We felt outrage over this and other indignities experienced by persons of colour in the USA. For some reason though, we paid no attention to segregation in our own community. Perhaps less conspicuous, but it was real…
My writings in the past have decried BC Hydro directors and executives surrendering to corporate inertia. Inappropriate rigidity has led to failure in many badly run corporations and it now threatens our giant public utility. But, I now conclude that explanation is too generous to BC policy makers, past and present. We have evidence that shifting energy industry dynamics were anticipated but consciously ignored. Groups with special interests were favoured and fleecing of the public began.
BC Government webpages pay little or no attention to climate change as a driver of wildfire. Public servants have sound advice for homeowners and recreationalists but government provides few comments about the elephant in the room, which is fossil fuel production, something BC is working to increase.
A person shilling for the pension funds management business complained about my recent article revealing extravagant salaries at the BC Investment Management Corporation (BMI). He wrote that I was a bitter old man…
BC Investment Management Corporation (BCI), the public pension fund manager in this province increased compensation costs by 30% per dollar of funds managed in fiscal year 2017-2018. It already paid extravagant salaries before this latest fiscal year…
The NDP promoted its PowerBC program in the 2017 election. Had they been sincere, government would be keeping a promise to voters and they would now be preserving Peace River farmlands. Instead, they are destroying a valuable agricultural area. Government would be respecting rights of First Nations and protecting BC Hydro ratepayers. In addition, the province would be stimulating growth of construction, maintenance, manufacturing and technology jobs for permanent residents in every region of the province. Instead of good jobs in BC communities, Site C provides work of questionable quality to a mostly transient workforce employed by conglomerates from Spain (Acciona) and Korea (Samsung).
In Norway, with 5.3 million people, upstream petroleum companies are subject to a 27% petro tax plus a special tax of 51%. Alberta petroleum tax is less than 4%. BC’s is near zero.
Citizens of British Columbia are facilitating and subsidizing production of bitumen from Alberta tar sands. How’s that for an example of hypocrisy by a Government that claims it object to expanded shipments of dilbit through Vancouver’s inner harbour?
The province won’t now admit that solar power potential is huge and economical. If they did, voters would wonder why BC Hydro is borrowing $11 billion, destroying valuable farmlands and breaking promises to indigenous people, just to reward political friends. If BC had a Press Gallery or an Official Opposition that cared a damn about the public interest, Site C would be a giant issue. Sadly, wildfires and property taxes on multi-million dollar mansions are more important.
Even if evidence of global warming was not overwhelming, the precautionary principle dictates a radical change in the way we conduct ourselves. Yet, our governments, banks that fear stranded assets, the fossil fuel industry and their many agents, deny the science.
When Justice Kenneth Affleck jailed a senior who was honestly motivated to improve the world, the judge was following a long-established Canadian legal tradition. It dictates: Punishment need not fit the crime when the perpetrator is a white-collar criminal or a senior officer of a wealthy corporation.
BC Hydro suffers a lack of managerial competence, contempt for fiduciary responsibilities, a disregard for present day energy realities and, perhaps most important, a failure of vision. The first exists because Government turned the company into a politicized utility, with senior managers and board members selected for Liberal Party loyalty, not for competence. As a result, BC Hydro dares not plot a new course with even a hint that recent energy policies have been a grand mistake.
Thanks to readers who already provide financial support. Assistance defrays costs for research, computer equipment, internet and website maintenance. Readers enable me to deliver fact-based analyses of public issues. My entire work is funded by private citizens. If you can help, choose any amount, large or small.