Section 10 of BC’s Budget Transparency and Accountability Act requires that crown corporations and government organizations must by November 30 issue financial reports for the six month period ended September 30.
BC Hydro chose to hide its report from the public until the Christmas break. A quick review shows why they wanted it hidden.
In the six months ended September 2020, BC Hydro sold less electricity to BC’s residential, commercial and industrial consumers than in the same period of every single year since 2002.
Throughout the charted periods, BC Hydro has claimed that demand was climbing steadily. That justified massive spending by the corporation to enlarge the empire.
But in addition to expanding its own generating capacity, BC Hydro committed tens of billions of dollars for contracts—as long as 60 years—to buy from independent power producers (IPPs). Despite flat consumption and in 2020, BC Hydro dumping water without generating electricity, business remained fine for IPP contractors.
The agreements with IPPs contained inflation escalator clauses that ensured prices paid for private power would increase regularly.
To improve BC Hydro’s financial statements, Liberals deferred costs and booked non-existent revenue as “regulatory assets.” In opposition, NDP complained about accounting tricks used to report false profits. But September 2020, BC Hydro’s regulatory assets are almost $1 billion higher than September 2019.
Reform of BC Hydro was a BC NDP promise before the 2017 election. Instead, we’ve are experiencing more of the same BC Liberal style. It seems two political parties enjoy playing the same games.
The Premier’s office is directing BC Hydro policies. That is why John Horgan appointed underqualified Michelle Mungall as Energy Minister in 2017 and assigned Horgan loyalist Bruce Ralston after Mungall departed.
Despite evidence that BC Hydro continues to waste billions of dollars that might have eased ratepayers’ burdens, don’t expect a sudden change in direction. Knowledgeable observers recognized the constrained BCUC review of 2017 was not intended to alter plans for Site C. It was public relations. Continuation of construction during the review was the first piece of evidence.
Government has issued various statements about independent monitoring being improved in the past three years but those too were public relations exercises without meaningful purpose beyond selling the project to the public.
In 2020, despite growing uncertainty about the physical viability of Site C and major budget unknowns, another PR exercise goes forward in the form of the Peter Milburn review.
Don’t expect any material thing to change when the Premier finally releases results of the latest examination by a trusted observer.
Meanwhile, construction on the Peace River continues and BC Hydro still fights with affected landowners and indigenous people who’ve been sustained there for millennia.