BC Hydro

Patronage and private privilege – BC Liberal P3

By numerous measures—affordability, inequality, protection of provincial assets, harm to public services and rapid expansion of debt and obligations—BC Liberals are colossal failures. Most BC residents are unaware because the major accomplishment of this government is its mastery of disinformation as political strategy.

With a breathtakingly large crew of contractors, communication managers and social media engineers, along with political officers and spinmasters throughout the public service, taxpayers pay most of the costs. But the industrial and commercial beneficiaries of Liberal policies fund other elements of the disinformation machine.

These include business associations and astroturfing “citizens” groups created in PR offices. For business, there is no net cost; expenditures are investments returned through friendly policies, corporate welfare and tax breaks.

Thoroughly compromised political pundits employed by corporate media barely pretend to be outside the government orbit. They do little independent reporting of note, preferring to echo talking points and press releases. Punches are pulled and rewards gathered.

We live in a province where patronage and privilege has become government’s purpose. Services to citizens interest Liberals only if there are major contracts to be awarded to loyal old friends or new friends with adequate generosity. BC Hydro, a utility that was established to provide decades of low cost power to businesses and residents, was seen as an asset pool to be sucked dry.

When Ministry of Finance experts work on the provincial budget, financial information is created that politicians treat as inconsequential beyond how it will affect their communications strategies. A good example of this assertion arises from private power policies, Here is a record of Ministry estimates of electricity values in the Pacific Northwest:

So, while the experts had a decent handle on the downward trends in electricity prices, Liberal politicians were determined to do business with private power producers, even if it meant billions in losses were to be suffered by BC Hydro customers.

I reviewed average market prices along with various reports of prices paid to independent power producers. The quality of information from BC Hydro is poor and average prices paid for private power are manipulated by factors not fully disclosed. I think it is impossible for a person outside the industry to create an accurate picture of average prices but we do know the upper range of prices.

These are reflected in the following graph. It is also clear that, as private power has come on stream, the overriding BC Liberal principle has been, “Buy high, sell higher to BC’s small consumers.”

Can anyone looking at these numbers think for a moment that honest and ethical management of public assets is intended in British Columbia? Don’t assume the Legislative Press Gallery will be looking closely at this situation. They have places to go, people to see and money to find.

19 replies »

  1. The links that infest your post (this post) seem to verge on or actually exceed the level of what is spam. I guess if this is a form of advertising that you are down with, it is okay and I can understand the help getting paid somewhat would be as we try to criticize and expose the shady dealings of the BC liaRs.

    For example the REWARDS link near end of third paragraph offers the opportunity to acquire a $350 android tablet for ONE DOLLAR. It activates my “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is a scam” alarm.

    Then the WORK link at “When Ministry of Finance experts WORK leads to an offer of a job making almost $300 per day, part-time from home.

    If this is an arrangement you've entered into to offset the costs of doing your blog and its research, that's fine and I will still follow your posts and admire your ability to get down into the nitty gritty and back it up with what scares Harper and Christy to death, FACTS!


  2. I think we all recall Gordon Campbell's reign of terror? The Campbell/Clark BC Liberals work for Harper. Christy Clark is just another Campbell, wearing a skirt. Nor, do I believe Christy is running this province.

    Campbell did thieve and sell our rivers, that were not his to sell. Campbell thieved and sold everything of value out of BC, he laid his very dirty hands on.

    Now they want to build, the Site-C-Dam which will flood, the most valuable farmland in all of Canada. This is another legacy of, the Campbell/Clark BC Liberals and Harper's.

    The oil sands get their water from, the Columbia Ice Fields and they are shrinking away. Some say, the Site-C-Dam will be used for fracking. When it comes to Harper, his so called Cons and the Campbell/Clark BC Liberals? We must expect the worst because, worst is all we will ever have from that cabal.


  3. I have no advertising links enabled on this website and I see none on the devices I use to access Northern Insight. So, if you have them, your local machine might be infected with malware that inserts contextual links. Free tools that I use regularly (this is not an advertisement):

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    If other readers see advertising links within articles here, please let me know. But, try scanning your system too.

    Many blogs use contextual advertising links but most people find them annoying. My aim is to maintain a site that has no advertising and we're working on a redesign that will provide a smaller homepage for faster loading and improved readability, particularly for the many readers who use mobile devices.


  4. I had an interview with my MLA, Laurie Throness (Chilliwack-Hope) regarding the teacher's strike and asked why the gov't could plead poverty to the teachers and yet blow money like sailors in a whore house to the IPPs (I didn't put it that way, but maybe I should have). Here was his response to me:

    “…there is a material difference between taxpayer and ratepayer-supported debt. If BC Hydro did not exist, a private company would have to provide power and ratepayers would support its debt, but this would not be considered as taxation.

    Regarding the clean energy policy of BC Hydro, any higher rate paid by BC Hydro to IPPs takes into account that the private IPPs bear all the risks, including building, maintenance, business risk and decommissioning costs of projects. There will be, for instance, no cost overruns for IPPs born by ratepayers. Moreover, about two-thirds of First Nations in BC are benefiting from involvement in IPPs, and or course, there are environmental benefits which have a cost. Nevertheless, to reduce these costs Minister Bennett announced last October a reduction in the number of IPPs, which may result in a lower total of contractual obligations in next year's Public Accounts.”

    It took me a long time to calm down before I could reply to him in a civil fashion.


  5. You might want to ask where we'd be today had W.A.C. Bennett followed the LIberal business model when BC Hydro's existing dams were constructed.

    At least they're admitting we're losing big dollars to private power producers. But, they're ok with that.

    You can bet that somebody is doing ok if BC Hydro is paying almost $160 MWh for power that might have been had from Bonneville Power Authority for 15% of the amount.

    Talk about risk transfer is absurd. What risk is there? That BC Hydro and the government of British Columbia won't pay three to eight times market value for the power?

    There is as much risk for a private power operator as there was for the Jawl Family when they borrowed $25M from BC Ferries and constructed a building as new headquarters for the publicly owned company. How many enterprises in BC have certainty, from the initial planning stage, that all that is produced will be purchased at prices that guarantee profitability today and will rise with inflation tomorrow.


  6. Hey anyone want to buy a stadium with a 9 figure new roof replacement.?we recently turned down ad money to rename it .8 figure deal by the way.


  7. No advertising links here either (I also use Malwarebytes to monitor my system).

    A really great article, Norm !


  8. 1. Inflate the need for new power in BC.
    2. Make a policy that new power has to come from IPPs.
    3. Stop BC Hydro from using Burrard Thermal, supposedly due to CO2 emissions. Means more power to come from IPPs.
    Who is writing BC Energy policy? Could it be IPP lobbyists?


  9. Keep in mind that Compass may not work well but it's been very successful by the real standards that apply to major public projects. It cost more than $200 million and the contractor will be paid $12M to $20M a year to operate, which makes it far more costly than the fare evasion it may or may not cure (beta testers already know how to defeat Compass).

    So, has it met the objectives expected? Of course. One more happy foreign based contractor extracting money from BC taxpayers. Whether or not it is money well spent is irrelevant.


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