In the same period, BC Hydro delivered 6,771 GWh to heavy industry at an average sale price of $55,400 per GWh.
Not counting very significant overhead and transmission costs of gathering electricity from many small producers and delivering power to industrial users, such as those owned by Murray Edwards, Christy Clark’s most generous supporter, the direct loss is $23,000 per GWh, or $156 million in six months.
This reveals two large subsidies being provided to Liberal friends. Compared to heavy industry, residential consumers pay 187% more for each unit of electricity and commercial users pay 165% more. In addition, independent power producers are paid prices for electricity far higher than either the BC or Pacific Northwest markets justify. Additionally, they are insulated from business and market risks since BC Hydro reduces its own power generation to accept IPP electricity into the system.
Now BC Liberals think hundreds of millions spent subsidizing the electricity bills of their financial contributors is insufficient. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett proposes to allow mining companies to defer payment of power bills and mineral taxes. The latter is insignificant because mining companies already pay almost none. However, electricity is a big ticket item.
Bennett says “There’s urgency to this.” I suspect that Premier Clark’s minions were rolling on the floor laughing, wondering how many other financial time bombs could be planted for future governments.
Of course, the details of planned deferrals are not discussed in public. Is Bennett proposing that resource companies be allowed to pay monthly bills a little after the due dates, or is he offering something far different?
Will unpaid bills attract interest? Will deferrals be for a year, five years or forever? Will long-term contracts be signed to ensure no future government can change deferral terms without triggering large payouts to the businesses?
Compare the BC Liberal attitude to individual citizens who face hard times. When asked about benefit rates frozen for almost a decade, Social Development & Social Innovation minister Michelle Stilwell stressed that payments to disabled citizens are dependent on “what is fiscally acceptable to taxpayers.”
Later in 2014, Premier Clark added, “We should raise rates for people who live on disability, when we can afford it.”
Now in 2016, we still can’t afford to raise social service benefits but helping a favourite Calgary billionaire is urgent.