British Columbia Hydro publishes quarterly reports that provide a long term record of consumption by domestic consumers, which are:
- Commercial and light industry
- Heavy industry
I’ve been reviewing more than 20 years of those records and they show gradual growth in electrical demand until 2005. Subsequently, there has been no demand growth; in 2015, domestic power sales were lower than ten years before.
What did grow were Hydro’s purchases of electricity from independent power producers. In calendar year 2006, 5,636 GWh supplied by IPPs cost $368 million (6.5¢/KWh); in 2015, 14,418 GWh cost Hydro $1,217 million (8.4¢/KWh).
A 155% increase in the volume of IPP purchases is alarming by itself given the lack of need for it but the average unit price has been rising steadily. In the 4th quarter of 2015, IPP unit prices were 9.2% higher than the preceding quarter. To accommodate power coming into the system, BC Hydro had to choose between shutting down their own capacity or dumping power in markets outside BC at well below cost.
The U.S. Energy Department issues comprehensive reports of electricity prices and the key number for the Pacific Northwest is the Mid-C (Columbia) Rate. By taking the weighted averages for 2015 and converting to Canadian dollars, we find the Mid-C price averaged under 3.8¢ a KWh in our currency.
That suggests IPP power, costing BC Hydro $1,217 million, could have been acquired from our southern neighbors for $545 million, a $672 million premium for buying power in BC. Ironically, many of the IPPs are foreign owned companies, happily exporting their profits.
As the charts below indicate, the fastest growth in the independent power industry has been in last two years, while Premier Clark hurries to get the Site C dam construction beyond what she calls a point of no return.
If this government’s assertions and policies were subject to careful analysis by investigative journalists in the professional media, we would see daily headlines and scandalous revelations. However, this is 2016 and that approach only happens in the movies.
In 3 months ended Dec/15, BC Hydro paid IPPs 9¢ a KWh and charged heavy industry 5¢ a KWh. Residential users pay for this. #bcpoli
— Norm Farrell (@Norm_Farrell) March 2, 2016