In our province, like sometimes oblivious night watchmen, voters shuffle to the polls every four years and make record of their presence. Knowing the schedule, thieves and miscreants pretend to put things in order, aiming to resume loading swag again when the coast is clear.
Swag is what British Columbia’s Liberal Party is about. Whether it’s cash-for-access, pay-to-play, quango patronage or tried and true scratch-my-back contracting, Liberals are practiced at converting public wealth to private.
BC Hydro is an example.The utility paid private power producers over $9 billion between 2003 and 2016. But, that’s only the start.
The auditor general reported in March 2016 that BC Hydro was obligated to pay more than another $58 billion on independent power producers’ energy purchase agreements. Prices paid IPPs have been at about three times market price, as determined by the Mid-C index published by the United States Department of Energy.
Not satisfied with paying friends a multiple of market value, BC Hydro increases the purchased quantities and the contracted prices annually. IPPs have their payments protected from inflation but disabled people of British Columbia waited almost ten years for a minor adjustment of benefits. That’s the Liberal way.
The government friendly corporate media won’t tell you about these details but, if pressed, they’ll remind you that fast ferries cost the province millions back in the 1990s.
Almost $70 billion from BC Hydro’s isn’t enough loot for Liberal friends. The result is Site C, a hydroelectric dam we don’t need and can’t afford. It is being rushed past the point of no return to ensure this province has surplus power for decades to come.
The only evidence we need to prove my assertion of utility mismanagement is a chart of the domestic demand for electricity in BC. This displays sales of power to residential, industrial and commercial consumers. Remaining power is dumped on markets outside the province by BC Hydro and the utility loses money on almost every transaction. (In the first nine months of 2016, they paid 8.5¢ a KWh to IPPs and realized 2.6¢ a KWH through surplus power trade sales.)
BTW, a while back, BC Hydro began reporting some sales of surplus energy in a category separate from trade sales. They want citizens to believe that domestic demand is higher than it is, so this is a direct effort to mislead the public. The numbers I use are consistent and, as noted, include sales to residential, commercial, light industry and heavy industry.
When purchases from private power contractors are rising and your sales to consumers are dropping, there are only two options. One is to export power to markets willing to pay a fraction of BC Hydro’s marginal costs. The other is to reduce power generated internally. (Hint: trades sales in the last three years are 20% of the volume of the preceding three years.)
The following numbers are taken from BC Hydro sales reports and domestic consumption is the total sales to residential, commercial and industrial customers:
Although the requirement for power from BC Hydro’s facilities has reduced, the utility has been spending lavish amounts to build capacity. Total assets in September 2006 were $13 billion; in September 2016, assets were $31 billion.