Vaughn Palmer thinks readers should be reminded of past NDP sins so he offers Gordon Campbell’s words from 2001:
“Under the New Democratic Party, BC Hydro has been viewed as little more than a cash cow for the government,” declared Opposition leader and soon-to-be premier Gordon Campbell on the eve of the 2001 election campaign.
“Since the NDP was elected, it has siphoned almost $2.5 billion out of BC Hydro into general revenue. This is $2.5 billion that could have gone to reducing the debt of BC Hydro, into the construction of new generation facilities, or been left in the pockets of customers.”
Shocking, isn’t it. Kudos to Vaughn Palmer for providing key facts.
He gives this additional information:
Turns out Hydro has paid $5.4 billion in dividends to the province since 1992, of which 60 per cent — or $3.2 billion — had to be borrowed.
Presuming Hydro had been able to use that money to offset its own borrowing needs, the Crown corporation’s current debt ($15.4 billion and counting) would be that much smaller and the upward pressure on rates from interest payments would be reduced as well.
However, that turns out to be a rewording of government press notes and it is not entirely accurate. Since 2001, BC Hydro payments to government total almost $10 billion and it does not take a graduate degree in finance to know, had that money not been paid out, the crown corporation’s borrowings would be reduced by the same amount. It is an illogical fiction to pretend that only $3.2 billion had to be borrowed to make payments to government during the past 23 years.
Mind you Palmer could also have reported that when Glen Clark became Premier, BC Hydro’s long-term debt was $7.496 billion and, when he left the office three years later, it was $7.474 billion. When Christy Clark became Premier, the utility’s debt was $11.712 billion. According to the September 2014 financial statements, the debt was $16.588 billion, not the lesser amount from ten months ago noted on the BC Liberal’s press notes.
That’s a 42% increase in long-term debt of BC Hydro, but the amount is chump change compared to borrowings planned in the next few years and the over $50 billion increase in contractual commitments to private power producers, which were non-existent during the days of Glen Clark’s profligacy.
Another illustration of the different approaches to debt and spending during different times follows. It should be noted that quarterly statements of BC Hydro in the current fiscal year show long-term debt rising at a monthly rate of $171.5 million. That is the fastest ever rate of growth in BC Hydro debt.
Liberal policies aim to eliminate elements of a progressive tax system to impose the financial burden of government on lower and middle income citizens. Had BC Hydro been able to use the “dividends” and water rentals extracted from it by government, the utility could have eliminated the tier-1 residential rate for the first 1,350 kWh used over an average two-month billing period. Instead, residents are hit with increases well above the rate of inflation. This is reflected graphically but not show is the 28% rate increase announced in 2014. 9% took effect April 2014, which will cause another upward move when the numbers for fiscal year 2015 are added.
Dropping the irony, I can say this Palmer article leaves me thinking the newspaper’s masthead could accurately describe the Vancouver Sun purpose to be,
“The job of the newspaper is to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted.”
Maybe I’ll suggest it to Vaughn if I see him entertaining Liberals at some corporate speaking engagement or encounter him resting in a quiet pasture.
|H/T Rob S.|