Before BC Hydro installed smart meters, manager of revenue assurance John Millard said the utility was losing 850 gigawatt hours of electricity to theft, mostly by illegal cannabis growers.
Vancouver Sun’s Nick Eagland reported in 2016 that a BC Hydro spokesperson credited smart meters and Millard’s team with reducing power theft by 80%. That would be a saving of 680 gigawatt hours.
Smart meter installations were substantially complete by 2015, a year that BC Hydro sold 49,272 GWh to residential, commercial and industrial customers. In 2011, when the meter changeovers commenced, sales to those customers were 49,735 GWh.
So, not only did demand for power by paying customers in BC decrease, BC Hydro’s need for power was eased by theft reductions. Together, that means about 1,150 GWh less electricity was needed in 2015, compared to 2011.
Yet, BC Hydro bought more than 4,000 extra GWh from independent power producers (IPPs) in that latter year, while its property plant and equipment account grew from $10 billion to $21 billion. ($25 billion in 2018.) IPP purchases increased $511 million between 2011 and 2015. All, without an increase in demand.
What’s wrong with this picture? The same mismanagement that has plagued BC Hydro’s demand forecasting for almost two decades.
Page 7 of the Annual Report for FY 2007 includes this:
Eleven year on, sales to residential and business consumers dropped from 50,908 GWh to 50,464. (Note: I do not include “other sales” because these include deliveries to customers outside BC.) That reduction of 1% is a far cry from the 25% increase predicted by BC Hydro in the period.
These unrestrained actions of BC Hydro are not inconsequential . They damage both residents and businesses directly and, considering that commercial operations generally pass costs on to consumers, it is individual citizens that carry the burden.
BC Hydro and the energy ministry employ many people paid salaries of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. But, these people don’t work to save ratepayers’ money but to convince customers that the 80% rate increase between 2007 and and 2018 was appropriate and the huge increases still to come are necessary.
We’re paying one load of operatives to remove money from our pockets and another load to convince us that all is well and we as the victims should be happy.
Monday, I watched a CTV news report that featured a citizen complaining about 25¢ being added to his monthly electricity bill for the Customer Crisis Fund. The consumer would really be angry if he stopped to think about the real losses he and others suffer through malfeasance and mismanagement.
He objects to ratepayer contributions to social services but doesn’t object to paying for corporate welfare?
This graphic representation is taken from BC Hydro reports:
BC Hydro just released its annual service plan report for the year ended March 31. According to British Columbia’s Budget Transparency and Accountability Act, the utility’s quarterly report to June 30 should be available to the public by September 15.
A year ago, the first quarter report was posted to the Internet a month after the deadline but the energy ministry claimed BC Hydro had complied with the law, even though an electronic version was not available until a month after the legislated deadline. I made repeated but unsuccessful requests for the report between September 15 and October 15.
Anticipating a delay this year, I’ve asked the energy ministry to make the report available by September 15 or provide a copy of the minister’s written statement giving reasons for the non-compliance. This notice from the minister is required under Section 17 of the BTA act.