BC Hydro

Taxpayers carry financial risks for IPPs

In Kleptocracy: rule by thieves, I repeated news that BC Hydro spent $676 million with private power producers. Through idiocy or corruption, the public utility has been forced to buy electricity it did not and does not need, some of it at prices five times market. Taxpayers’ irrecoverable losses could reach $500 million in 2012 alone.

Presently, the Pacific Northwest has more electricity than can be used in the region or transmitted to California. “Over-generation” results from American wind energy producers and other private sources and because many large consumers – pulp and paper mills, sawmills, shipbuilders, smelters and other industries – are gone. In this province, private producers have priority, so BCH must shut down their own equipment and spill water unused from reservoirs. South of the border, the Bonneville Power Authority curtails private power instead of shutting off turbines and spilling excess water over the dams.

Smart, connected private power producers knew the possibility of oversupply so they got others to take the financial risks. The others were delivered by Gordon Campbell and BC Liberals. It was us, taxpayers and consumers of electricity.

BC’s Energy Independence? Don’t Believe It, Will McMartin, The Tyee, May 31, 2012

…[Blair Lekstrom, Liberal cabinet] minister, moreover, thinks it’s “tremendous” that small businesses — even those with little experience and virtually no capital — are competing against larger, more experienced electricity providers to obtain long-term supply contracts from BC Hydro, the province’s publicly-owned utility giant.

It all sounds great, doesn’t it? Self-sufficiency. Entrepreneurial risk-takers. Why, you can’t get more small-town that that.

Except, it’s all a sham. British Columbia under Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberal government has become increasingly dependent on non-B.C. owned corporations to produce high-priced electricity, which BC Hydro is forced (by government edict) to buy, and in turn sell at inflated prices to captive residential and commercial consumers…

Opponents of BC Liberal policies have been warning of the current dilemma facing electricity consumers. Folks at The Common Sense Canadian warned this would happen; many of us paid attention, many did not. However, once more, Rafe makes his opinions clear:

Hydro’s Overflowing Dams, Huge Losses Due to Private Power, Rafe Mair, The Common Sense Canadian, May 13, 2012

“BC Hydro is spilling water over its dams and missing a chance to make a huge profit and is, instead, sustaining a crippling loss all by reason of corrupt bargains it’s been forced to make with private companies.

“Ask yourself how Hydro could lose money in one of the wettest years in history, when their reservoirs are chock-a-block full?

“It’s because of the gross negligence of the Campbell/Clark government – supported by the mainstream media (which has refused to do its job and investigate the private power plan – a plan which compels Hydro to buy private power at double+ the market price.)

“Yes, folks, the chickens I’ve been writing about for years have indeed come home to roost – BC Hydro is buying private power while spilling its own water over the dams. Your power company, instead of using the water in its reservoirs to make power for British Columbians, lets it spill away, unused, while it pours money into grasping private hands at immense profits to them and immense losses to us.

‘Moreover, BC Hydro – such is the surplus of power in the US – could be buying Bonneville Dam power for a song and flipping it into a neat profit…”

Categories: BC Hydro, BC Liberals

18 replies »

  1. My letter to my MLA, John Les:

    Mr. Les,

    I understand that BC Hydro is spilling water in its overfull dams, rather than turning it into power… because the government has agreed to buy power from the independent power producers — at a higher cost.

    Further, Hydro could be buying cheap power from the Bonneville system in Washington State and could sell it for a profit.

    Do I have this correct — and if so: why is this happening and what can be done about it?

    More info at:

    I await your reply,

    Barry Stewart


  2. No more dividends to taxpayers from BC Hydro, I guess. Instead, as Blair Lekstrom indicated, the financial dividends from the province's public utility go to businesses “with little experience and virtually no capital.” There you have it, an admission that BC Liberals gave a stream of profits to people who were unqualified and not at risk. Does that sound like fraud?


  3. Barry, I encourage you and others to send letters and even better, to confront these politicians in public forums whenever an opportunity presents itself. Ask questions too when Liberals appear on Bill Good's show. His may be the only place they feel safe, sure they will hear only puffball questions. Just don't indicate to the call screener that you might pose something difficult; that would put you in the not-welcome queue.


  4. McMartin says the Libs must buy from the IPPs because of government edict. Does anyone know if this edict includes long-term contracts? If not, it's time to change edicts. Even if: what's a contract, if not to be broken?

    News of this waste struck a chord with me last night: the government could be pulling in Hydro profits which would help them soften their “Net Zero” stance — but they have willfully frittered away the opportunity. “Sorry… no money left!”


  5. I as well as Eloise Charet, Peter L (who had some posts at the now vanished FreeSpeechCa by coyote) among others have been beating this horse for years now. I've always maintained that on top of the gross environmental destruction, the business case just wasn't there in any real way, other than the fact that once an IPP promoter had the contract in hand that BC Hydro was forced to sign, they could go to the bank for capital.

    Unfortunately on top of the sleazy insiders with no expertise or capital, other than their friendship with the right Liberals, much of this stolen money goes directly out of the province and country to multinational corporations like G.E. and others of its tax avoiding, in any jurisdiction, ilk!


  6. Campbell used dirty tactics, dirty politics, to benefit himself. Same as he thieved and sold the BCR, with the priceless Real Estate that went with it.

    Campbell's lunacy of the, stupid smart meters. Campbell's theft and sale of our rivers. The terrible eco damage, of thousands of fish left to die, stranded with no water.

    Only because it was Campbell, there had to be money in it for him. Otherwise, what other opposing party, would purposely and stupidly destroy their own province?

    Christy is still taking pages, from Campbell's book….only this time it's Boessenkool instead of Campbell. There are BC citizens who think, Campbell still has his dirty hands on BC.


  7. Correction

    In my comment above, I meant Peter Dimitrov, I just couldn't remember his last name at the time, though I remembered the -ov at the end and thought the first letter was an L for some reason. But he was onto these insidious contracts and all their faults YEARS ago.


  8. I would like to think that the NDP will look long and hard at anything that Campbell changed regarding BC Hydro, whilst the BC Liberals were in power. I see no reason why laws cannot be changed and that the money being funnelled to the IPP producers, cannot be retained by BC Hydro – assuming of course, that the BC Liberals haven't sold it off before being defeated in the next election. Also, that BC Hydro returns to managing it's own customer accounts instead of having a US company doing the work. Same can be said about the MSP administration too.

    Definately time for the NDP to take the reins and get to driving the province properly, fairly and above all, honestly.

    Roll on the 2013 May elections where no doubt, the BC Liberals will end up getting thoroughly thrashed and if we are lucky, will no longer exist – with zero seats.



  9. As to whether a new government can overturn the follies of the last ten years of Campbell Gang Crime Spree depends mainly on whether we elect a government with integrity and balls. Think about the great “free enterpriser” W.A.C. Bennett, NATIONALIZING (the opposite of privatizing, especially to cronies ala BC liaR) power companies, ferry companies and railroads right and left, with the corporate types kicking a screaming, kind of like Hugo Chavez on steroids while engaging in rhetoric about those scary socialist hordes at the gate. It beggars the imagination trying to imagine what would have been left for the socialist hordes to take away from the private sector, maybe the churches and some hospitality businesses – socialized car dealers?

    I was particularly offended when Christy Clark, deputy premier when Gordo gave away Wacky's (and our) Railroad, referred to herself as pretend premier “carrying on W.A.C.'s legacy to open up the “hurtlands!” After the government she was part of and is now theoretically head of, spent over a decade doing demolition on everything W.A.C. built, she should have her mouth washed out with rancid rhino urine if she even mentions his name.

    I must admit, back around 1970, I wasn't a big fan of the Wacky One, and was glad to see Little Davy get his too short shot at government, but in the rear view mirror W.A.C. looks like a giant with vision as long as one can ignore some of the over the top rhetoric.


  10. Unhappily, this is one animal let out of the barn that will not be easily returned. Times have changed since WAC operated. For example, in Bennett's time, citizens were prohibited from suing government They could drive a bulldozer through your front window and you had little recourse. A law like that would not survive today.

    The next BC government will not be able to put right every situation without indisputable evidence of fraud. However, Campbell, his cronies and successors were not fools leaving trails of evidence. To a large extent, the frauds are in place and unchangeable. Liberals consciously made bad decisions that won't be easily undone. Don't raise your expectations that a new government will create a just society.

    The Morgans and Kinsellas will continue comfortably living in their secure mansions.


  11. OK Norm. I have to ask, are you going to do an article on that Dell Laptop ? I'm sure that you have everyones attention with that little article on the front page.I know I'd sure like to hear about it.
    Sorry for bring off topic, but I couldn't find a way to post privately on this one.


  12. Well, there is a story attached and I'll get to it soon. We've purchased from this company repeatedly over the years and watched their customer service degrade. They make it particularly difficult for customers to have a two way communication with a real human being and they count on individual consumers having no power to dispute. If that's the way they choose to conduct business, its important for other people to know.

    The son of a friend is a design engineer with Apple, involved with major product releases. When a new Apple product hits the market, senior designers for the item will spend time working customer support phones, talking directly to consumers who are using the product in the real world. If you are an Apple customer seeking assistance, you may be talking to a high ranking engineer who designed major components of your system or device. Instead of treating customer services as a bother, Apple requires design engineers to be directly involved with customers in early life of a product. The company sees user feedback as essential, good for the customers but also good for the designers. Partly explains why Apple is dominating personal electronics while companies like Dell are losing their direction and sinking toward the final exit.


  13. I see where you are coming from ( I think ). The fact that in order to get onshore tech support you have to pay extra, is disturbing. I still can't wait to see the story though, hopefully with some transcripts of your experience with Dell tech support. I am lucky that I do not usually need tech support , I can normally solve my own problems, or just exhange the product where I bought it from. Buying locally, even from a box store has its benefits.


  14. As for the Dell, I call them the computer company from Hell. Here in my neck of the woods I got involved trying to fix numerous Dell laptops because telus had an offer for three years of signing your life away for broadband (kinda newly available here in the sticks at the time) and they would give you a free piece of crap Dell loaded with another piece of crap Vista. I thought it appropriate that telus chose Dell as I am not impressed with the anti-labor, low service telus creeps either so they are a marriage made in Hell. With one of my “clients” we spent two days unsuccessfully trying to get telus to activate his broadband, this after he had been being billed for three months for service he wasn't receiving (he being none geek didn't realize what was going on until the router finally arrived and he called me to help set it up and connect him) because they hadn't sent the router yet. Then the fellow had to move where the service was unavailable (more than a mile from the switch, and they are unwilling to add to the old POTS system), but they still wanted to hold him to the contract they still hadn't fulfilled, long story short, he kept the piece of crap laptop and quit dealing with telus over anything.

    After the 2004 election in the USA it was possible to make a map of the red and blue states which showed that all the blue states were contiguous with either the ocean, a state on the coast or Canada or a state next to a state touching Canada. Analyzing the blue states showed that all of the better universities were in blue states, and ALL of the major computer/IT companies were in blue states except for Dell which was in Red ReThug Texas. The idea was for the blue states to join with Canada (pre-Harper) and let the Red States go their own way renamed JesusLand or something as the new blue country would be losing nothing of value. The blue country meanwhile would have Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of California, Stanford, USC, CalTech, MIT, google, IBM, yahoo, microsoft, HP, Oracle and on and on


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