BC Hydro

North American Megadam Resistance Alliance

At noon today, October 14, I will join others in a webinar arranged by North American Megadam Resistance Alliance (NAMRA).

Other presenters:

I will be talking about BC Hydro’s decline from an efficient and profitable crown corporation that served needs of electricity consumers throughout British Columbia to a bloated operation shifting billions of dollars from public to private hands.

These charts will illustrate my points:

To accommodate IPP purchases in years of flat demand and poor export markets, despite improvement of its own generating equipment, BC Hydro had to reduce internally produced electricity.

Before forming the Horgan Government in 2017, BC NDP was a frequent critic of how BC Liberals managed BC Hydro, our largest and most important crown corporation.

NDP promised radical improvements. Those promises were empty.

The only substantive changes were the appointment of Chair Ken Peterson and multi-billion dollar increases in capital spending.

Premier Horgan knew and trusted Mr. Peterson but the new Chair had spent most of his 40 year utility career in times when consumption increased steadily as population grew and the economy expanded. Starting about 2005, the trend line of total consumption flattened and per capita use of electricity declined.

BC Hydro may have noticed the shift but the corporation carried on as it had done since the 1960s. Around the world, nations have been installing wind and solar power but BC’s public utility kept its focus on expensive and destructive hydro power.

At a time when progressive utilities around the world are adapting, BC Hydro pursues policies of the 20th century. Failure to adapt would be fatal except government backed monopolies have unique abilities to survive.

That’s not good news for taxpayers and consumers but it’s great for executives and contracted corporations that profit from status quo management.

Categories: BC Hydro

12 replies »

  1. That should be an informative webinar, Norm.

    Not being well-versed in money matters… I’d like to hear more about the growth of assets at BC Hydro and how it’s a problem.

    I can see a problem, if BCH has been needlessly buying properties and equipment (such as at Site C) — but if their existing properties and buildings have been appreciating: isn’t that a good thing? My own home, for example, has at least doubled in value in the last 15 years.

    Meanwhile, the cutbacks in Hydro’s own production of power — to accommodate the mostly unneeded and overpriced IPP output — is straightforward. It’s an expensive miscalculation (or worse), promoted by the BC Liberals, that will continue to rob ratepayers for decades.

    Thanks for all you do, to inform citizens who have their eyes and ears open.

    Like

    • Hello Barry;
      Yes indeed Norm is providing a very valuable service to BC citizens. I think Norm’s point of showing growth in BC Hydro assets, when demand/need is stagnant, is a demonstration of investing borrowed money to produce unneeded electricity at costs that are about three times the going price of a KW hr in Western North America.
      Not included in these charts are the contracts BC Hydro customers are paying for and from which BC Hydro is not earning any ownership of. When we drill down on that arrangement (Campbell’s secret contracts) it is a blatant wealth transfer from the citizens of BC to the owners of IPP contracts, some of which have likely been sold on .
      From about 2005 on BC Hydro produced projections, wrongly called forecasts, that used population and GDP errors . A 2011 projection was using a population annual growth value that was more than double the rate of growth Stats Canada and BC Gov Statistics was using at that time. . Even the provincial credit rater was using and aware of the Stats Can growth rate.
      This means that what happened with BC Hydro finances was deliberate and punitive for customers and citizens. As for the defender of public interest , BCUC, it stood by and with little to no fuss was an enabler.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. All this will be moot when Ma Nature has her way, the dam fails and wipes out the downstream population and Hydro has their ass sued off for negligence.
    They may be ‘fortifying’ the dam base, ie. that portion of the liquid shales * directly below the extremely heavy earth fill dam, but they haven’t acknowledged, at least publicly, the extremely heavy load a reservoir full of water will exert on those liquid shales. Leading to more mud slides, causing additional stress on the base and possible tsunamis (overcresting said earth filled dam).

    * I’m NOT a Geological Engineer, but it’s my understanding that the shale base becomes liquid when subjected to stress, and water.

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  3. Benford’s law. Holds true for most number sets in our universe and indicates tampering where it is violated. The BC Hydro F20 financial report does not adhere to Benford’s law. Was it tampered with? Why would the execs fudge the numbers?

    Like

    • There is only one logical answer to your question.

      It was clear to some that BC Hydro was going off the financial rails as early as 2005. Their demand for electricity outlook was deliberately exaggerated and we saw clear proof of this in every “forecast ” BC Hydro published from then on. I even had an unsatisfactory conversation with the Director of forecasting in Victoria in 2011. He dodged accountability by telling me he was under orders to take future provincial values for population and GDP from an unidentified private consultant.

      In fiscal 2016 BC Hydro stopped delivering an Annual Report and instead, ever since, has posted a “Work Plan”. If you were to look at the provincial laws governing all Crown Corporations you would see that every Crown must publish an Annual Report. To publish a “Work Plan” instead is to avoid legal accountability which is the reason for the change that brought no concerns from the MSM. A Public company cannot continue trading its shares when annual reports are not published.

      Now after digging the financial hole at BC Hydro so deep , especially because of Site C , BC citizens are close to finding out what Newfoundlanders now know.

      If you are curious as to why, try thinking about NERC which is based out of the US and has legal control over all North American electricity producers at the wholesale level. Then think about what Canadians mean to the US ; suppliers of commodities at the lowest costs possible. Japan did this globally for coal in the 80s and we Canadians got sucked in , causing a lot of big investments to be “stranded”.

      This is all about the “great game” and BC citizens are playing their assigned role of financing and building infrastructure that mostly benefits others.

      Like

      • That is spot on correct about NERC. It sets up a North American game with rules on how to participate in the energy wholesale market.

        The problem is we have continually promoted idiots and puppets to positions of power in BC. Declarations of competence are necessary and we need to remove the incompetents.

        How can we expect to “win” any “game” if we have the worst players and most of them don’t know the rules or even what game is being played.

        I have zero tolerance for ignorance or corruption of any public servant paid more than $100k/yr. I personally know many highly paid managers in BC Hydro that do not understand how electricity works.

        Which party will ever have the balls to demand competence from crown corporation management? Who will send all these useless people packing and start honestly trying to address the real problems we face?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Shame on BC voters for propping up the Liberals for 16 years. Shame on us all for allowing Christy Clark to be elected and shove idiotic policies down the throats of BC taxpayers. Shame on the media for not excoriating Christy for appointing a puppet in Jessica Mcdonald as CEO of BC Hydro.

    Kudos to the voters that chose the NDP in the last election hoping they would clean up the incompetents and cancel site C.

    Shame shame shame on any voter who now knows what has happened and votes in either an NDP or Liberal government. Our descendants will suffer for the next seven generations because of the incompetents making decisions right now…

    I despair for our future.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Shame on BC voters for propping up the Liberals for 16 years. Shame on us all for allowing Christy Clark to be elected and shove idiotic policies down the throats of BC taxpayers.”

    The spirit of your post is spot-on, but we the people will never truly unite as the self-determining force that we are capable of if we continue blaming each other for being victimized by a sophisticated full court press of state-of-the-art governmental/corporate deception. People were deceived and lied to for decades. Secrets were kept from us. Money was stolen from us. Truth-tellers were muted, threatened or destroyed. Heritage resources and institutions were looted, sold off or ruined. Even our means of communication with each other about all of this was hijacked, perverted and then used against us. Our style of democracy has been captured and weaponized. I have no confidence that the voting system itself has been allowed to maintain its integrity.

    We have been forced into a post-democracy reality for some time now. The system is broken. That’s the reason why so many of us are even here at this blog (and in many cases orbitted the blogosphere since its inception). Elections have not lead to resolutions, only to social devolution. We can only begin to make changes by uniting.

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    • I agree. Completely.

      We also have to expose the wrongdoers and ensure that we are all united against their infiltration.

      This blog has brought so much truth to us all and I’m truly grateful for it. Let’s pray that the truth spreads more than the PR.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As a long time fan of Norm’s commentaries and insights I have used my limited access to our political masters to point our new (local) BCNDP MLA to this blog and asked him to consider cleaning up and restructuring BC Hydro. As all of this was done well before the election I do have a personal commitment from him to pursue this request if/when he was/is elected. I am hopeful but skeptical.

    One continuing concern is that BCHydro continues to only consider projects that lock us into current (pun intended) technologies during a period of accelerating change. For an example of one group’s approach to energy generation technological changes, both available now and projected, it is worthwhile to take a look at the just released report by RethinkX “Rethinking Energy 2020-2030: 100% Solar, Wind and Batteries is Just the Beginning”.

    If only half of the changes the RethinkX group’s take place then unhappy will be those of us who will wind up paying for the BC Hydro follies of the last quarter century!

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