BC Hydro

What Hydro, Government and corporate media hates reporting

BC Hydro’s sales of electricity to residents and businesses have been flat since 2005, despite population growth of 15% in BC and minimal effort by the provincial utility  to reduce consumption. BC Hydro hides the fact by including sales outside the province in the once insignificant “Other” category and counting these as domestic sales.

Sales to BC Consumers 375

Despite no growth in demand by its BC consumers and reductions in internally produced power, BC Hydro has been adding assets and incurring term debt at unprecedented rates.

assets 375

Between 2005 and 2017, BC Hydro increased its internal hydro generating capacity by 16% but got less power from each megawatt of installed capacity.

4.16 gigawatt hours of electricity were produced by each megawatt of capacity in the provincial utility’s hydro facilities during 2013-2017. In the five years 1997-2001, the production was 4.97 GWh per MW of capacity, 21% higher.

Production per MW Capacity 375

With large sums paid for updated and improved generating equipment, this suggests internal power production was reduced by management choice. The most obvious explanations include:

  • Deliveries from IPPs meant unsellable surplus power unless BC Hydro’s own facilities were slowed;
  • Surplus power could not be profitably exported because additional power dumped into an already soft external market would have depressed prices that were already low.

Despite flat demand, BC Hydro has been steadily increasing its purchases from independent power producers (IPPs). These secret contracts seem to be take-or-pay because purchases have been rising while no need for additional power is apparent.

Q1 to Q3 IPP purchases 2005 to 2018 375

IPPs Price 375

The Canadian Entitlement to electricity under the Columbia River treaty — 1,320 MW capacity vs 1,100 MW at Site  C (+20%) — could be returned to British Columbia but the province chooses to sell it in the USA for about 2.6¢ per KWh, which is about one-quarter of the average rate paid to IPPs.

The information disclosed above is taken from BC Hydro annual and quarterly reports. It is not something that politicians talk about and certainly not something that corporate media has any interest in reporting.


11 replies »

  1. Hello Norm:
    Over the past 16 years, I think the BC Liberals have treated the BC taxpayers much like their own personal Casino or Cash For Life lottery ticket. “The House” always wins, no matter the odds.
    The rules are vague. Surround yourself with high paid executives
    The bigger the liar, the bigger the pay cheque. Figure-heads informed the media with incomplete, erroneous messages. The Liberals drained profitable Crown Corporations to finance their own and donor’s lifestyles. (Mining, LNG, Site C Dam, Hydro, ICBC, Ferries, Fish Farms, “world class oil response clean up”, Prosperity Fund, Vancouver Real Estate, Police Gang Respone, Translink)
    As her kingdom was unraveling, Christy Clark bailed out. Look at the back ground of their new leader Andrew Wlkininson. The BC Liberals have a tradition of corruption.
    Andrew Wilkinson was planning to sue the BC taxpayer/Government on behalf of the tobacco industry … truly a “butt-head”. a Doctor, a lawyer and Liberal tobacco lobbyists.


  2. The most distressing aspect of this situation to me is the fact that the NDP has now decided to own it; for reasons its leadership is unable or unwilling to explain.

    The BC Liberals, having visited this travesty upon us, will not hold the NDP to account for its continuance. Nor should we look for the co-opted excuse for a free press hereabouts to fulfill its duty.

    That means the public present and future will continue to get royally fleeced. Until it wakes up and realizes that only sheep and goats get fleeced.


  3. This Vancouver Sun article from yesterday implies that problems at BC Hydro are somehow as much the BC NDP’s fault as the BC Liberals.
    Then, quoting David Austin, who works for IPPs, the same article says that the $56 billion owed for IPP power contracts is not an important part of BC Hydro’s fiscal problems.
    About David Austin:


  4. I like the fact that folks are connecting the dots, as shown by the remarks above. There is ample evidence, as Norm gives us, to show that BC Hydro customers have been unwary victims for at least ten years or more. Those benefiting from this systematic theft have been the past Liberal politicians and their fellow travelers, aligned or in the Independent Power Producer group.
    The definition of a “Plutocracy” is a system of government where money is the basis of power.
    This certainly is description of political and financial power in BC and not of a democracy, as we like to think ourselves having.


    • It’s an old one but was a serious effort to mislead, including this:

      “actual average price paid for electricity from clean energy producers over the past 20 years is $64/MWh, as noted by BC Hydro in the utility’s 2010 Annual Report.”

      What relevance did prices BC Hydro paid in the 90’s have to what lay ahead for ratepayers?

      A 1990 long term purchase agreement had Alcan selling Kemano power to BC Hydro for $46/MWh. (It cost them about $5/MWh to produce.) But by 2011, even that price was up significantly and new IPP power was even more costly.

      The secret private power deals have a wide range of values. Some pay more than $150/MWh, amounts that are more than painful when you consider that Alberta will be acquiring wind power for $37/MWh.

      The records show the cost of wind and solar power are steadily declining and the cost of power from IPPs is steadily rising.


    • There’s the rub. How do you fact check the BC Media when it took a paper from another country to break the story of “the wild west” of BC political donations. And the Globe and Mail to break the stories about our atrociusly corrupt housing market. They are pre-Trump with their wilful blindness and shameless compliance with (imho) the most corrupt government in the history of British Columbia if not Canada. From lying to BCs face about the health ministry firings and the “RCMP investigation” that wasn’t. To deleting public records repeatedly breaking their own laws , and using taxpayer money for “Quick Wins”.
      Or selling land at a loss to their financial supporters in the hottest real estate market in the world ? There is literally 50 bona-fide scandals and financially incompetent mistakes that would have cost an NDP government power for 100 years. Yet the teflon Neo-Liberal party of BC still has 40% support in our province. To fact check our media would require media with the power to shame people that have no shame.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. BC Energy Minister when asked about abandoning the hydro rate freeze:

    “Let me take this opportunity to again remind British Columbians what we’re seeing at B.C. Hydro as a result of what BCUC has been uncovering in terms of this process that we were in that included a lot of different things, including our application to have a rate freeze. What they found was billions — billions — in high-priced contracts to IPPs. Many of those IPPs are their rich friends who personally benefited from those types of contracts.”



  6. the para. “despite no growth……” they’re still taking on debt. made me laugh. Well how else are they going to reward friends and family and old time B.C. Lieberal supporters?

    In my opinion, the only way to turn B.C. Hydro around is to FIRE/DISMISS, whatever the board of directors, the heads of any number of departments, etc. and hire new people who are more in line with what will work for the taxpayers and domestic house hold customers. Yes, there will be pay outs/lawsuits for dismissals, but in the long run it maybe a lot less expensive than the current rate of activity over at B.C. Hydro.

    Wonder if anyone at B.C. Hydro has phoned Christy’s billionaire mine owning friend and told him he has to start paying his electricity bill just like the rest of us? If no one has, they ought to be fired. Christy has been gone long enough for them to figure out the party is over.


  7. This is from Sec. 6 of the BC Clean Energy Act:

    “(2) The authority (BC Hydro) must achieve electricity self-sufficiency by holding, by the year 2016 and each year after that, the rights to an amount of electricity that meets the electricity supply obligations solely from electricity generating facilities within the Province,

    (a) assuming no more in each year than the heritage energy capability, and

    (b) relying on Burrard Thermal for no energy and no capacity, except as authorized by regulation.”

    Does this explain why BC doesn’t use the Canadian Entitlement to Columbia River power, instead of selling to the US?

    Does the BC Clean Energy Act prevent BC Hydro from using Columbia River power, if needed?

    If power demand in BC were said to be growing, would this justify the purchase of even more power from IPPs and insanely expensive, destructive dams such as Site C?


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