During the seventies and eighties, inflation was substantial in Canada. However, BC Hydro was not a major contributor to the rising cost of living.
In the 20 years to 2006, BC Hydro’s charge per kilowatt-hour to residential consumers increased at 1/3 the rate of inflation.
However, when Gordon Campbell’s neoliberal friends decided BC’s iconic utility was a ripe target for privatizing public wealth, things changed dramatically.
In the 10 years to 2016, BC Hydro’s charge per kilowatt-hour to residential consumers increased at 5x the rate of inflation.
The first and largest contributor to financial pressure on BC Hydro was the Liberal decision to reward private producers with long-term, price escalating supply contracts. The prices allowed had no relationship to market value and steadily growing purchases were not dependent on rising demand.
This $60+ billion boondoggle was followed by commitments for billions of dollars to be spent delivering power to remote regions where the primary beneficiary was Liberal donor and bagman Murray Edwards, billionaire shareholder of Imperial Metals, operator of the Mount Polley and Red Chris mines.
The Site C dam is a continuation of the financial raid on BC Hydro. With flat demand for electricity over the last dozen years and the availability of cheaper alternative sources, another Peace River dam is of value only to contractors who aim to fill their private pockets with public funds.
Will prices continue to rise steeply? Of course.
BC Hydro has engaged in accounting trickery to pretend it remains solvent. But, with more than $7 billion in deferred costs and billions more in unproductive assets like Site C and the Northwest Transmission Line, ratepayers face massive price increases to restore stability.
Alternatively, the province must return the billions that have been stripped from BC Hydro in the form of dividends and water rentals.
Either way, BC residents will be experiencing severe pain from the years of mismanagement at BC Hydro.