BC Hydro

Deceit and distraction

BC Hydro and government overseers have long claimed electricity demand is growing at a rate of 40% over 20 years. In fact, demand has not grown since 2005. What did grow was the average unit price consumers paid BC Hydro. That increased 115% in the 20 years from 2001 to 2021.

During that time, natural gas production in BC more than doubled and public revenues from gas almost disappeared.

BC NDP is marketing a new program of distraction that promises BC Hydro will spend $38 million annually for five years to promote fuel-switching by its customers.

Somehow, according to minister Bruce Ralston, this will lead to about $80 million a year in savings for consumers. What Ralston didn’t say is that savings must come after rates rise to capture more than $400 million a year to cover Site C losses and to pay higher prices to private power producers, some of whom are paid whether they deliver electricity or not.

As eager promoters of natural gas production, the Horgan Government is rightly seen as a de facto climate change denier. Because that troubles many NDP supporters, and because BC Hydro has surplus capacity, the five-year electrification program was launched.

BC NDP should have eliminated almost $1 billion a year in subsidies that drive growth in fossil fuel production. Instead, they chose to mount a distraction campaign about a very modest plan for electrification. The Premier’s energy policies are more likely to clean our wallets than our environment.

You may have noticed television advertising by the provincial utility that begins with spokespersons saying, “With BC Hydro, everything is powered by water. Making it BC’s cleanest energy source…..”

Federal law in Canada prohibits false or misleading representation. Because everything is not powered by water at BC Hydro, I filed a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada that includes this:

In fact, BC Hydro operates natural gas combustion turbine generating stations at both Prince Rupert and Fort Nelson.

In addition, according to a document on its website, as of April 1, 2021 BC Hydro has contracted with independent power producers (IPPs) to purchase non-hydro electricity, including:

— three agreements to buy electricity produced by privately owned gas fired thermal generators,
— four for electricity produced by ERG (Energy Recovery Generator) systems at natural gas pumping stations,
— twenty-six for electricity produced by Biomass, Biogas or MSW (Municipal Solid Waste incineration).

Thirty-three arrangements BC Hydro has with IPPs are not “powered by water” and they account for about one-quarter of the capacity BC Hydro has contracted for from IPPs.

It is dishonest to say “everything is powered by water” and is intended to mislead people watching or listening to the commercial, which is running frequently on BC television stations.


Categories: BC Hydro

12 replies »

  1. Again, a great presentation Norm. I continue to be amazed at the tolerance of BC citizens to having their pockets picked by the secret contracts you describe above, and more.

    I hope you will have a chance to write about the new provincial accounting system the AG gave notice of last March. So far the MSM has said nothing about why the need for a change or what benefits the public will get from a change, if it is allowed to happen March 2022.

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    • Ignorance is bliss. Where else do you hear this in the “mainstream media ” ?
      You have to search for information that should be screamed from the rooftops.

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  2. Any corporation in BC Hydro’s financial position and sitting on a surplus of it’s primary product would be negligent in the extreme if it did not undertake a massive sales program to entice more customers for existing product while putting the brakes on capital expenditures that would exacerbate the problem. Yet here we have BC Hydro doing the bare minimum on the enticement (earmarking about .0074% of its annual operating budget), while grossly overextending on the capital expenditures.

    Switching to electricity from fossil fuels is a good and necessary thing if we are to even start to tackle climate change. But for John Horgan and BC Hydro to pretend this program is some sort of altruistic act by BC Hydro to save the planet is a bit much.

    By offering us a few million of our own carrots at the front counter while shovelling billions in subsidies to fossil fuel extractors out the back door Mr. Horgan reveals his real priority.

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  3. Thanks Norman, I’m looking forward to the advertising councils response. I don’t know how to counter even the clean energy label let alone the ‘all’ of it is clean pretense. Hydro started calling Site C the clean project about the same time they walked away from conservation which would be our cleanest option.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Every time I read one of your excellent posts, my blood pressure rises, I steam in rage, yet nothing happens and the show goes on.

    Horgan seems to have capitulated to Vision Vancouver and has become a mere figure head of the party, while the real power behind the throne, Geoff Meggs, spreads his net over the province.

    With Horgan, we have Premier Photo-op the 2nd and his government acts like it.

    With BC Hydro, it is the same old, same old, blah, blah, blah, of higher power rates, more money for site c and more lies and deceit.

    One wonders what pictures, Hydro hold over Horgan (maybe its Meggs?)because only a fool would keep doing the same thing over again hoping for different results.

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  5. Don’t forget the power Hydro regularly imports from the US, usually at night when prices are lower.
    US electricity is generated from nat. gas 40%, coal 20%, and nuclear 20%.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perhaps a missing bit in this discussion is that the data we have, is for the most part , from non-open market activity.

      BC Hydro is a monopoly and I suspect most of the rest of North American providers are as well. The BCUC is supposed to be the defender of the public’s interest and that would be to protect against an out-of-control monopoly. So far I see failure , particularly in regard to over $60 billion in contracts that are secret.

      One only has to read the record pertaining to the formation of NERC to capture this reality.

      If there is an intent to create a monopoly then the public narrative needs to be crafted carefully to achieve this goal. It was never an accident that all Canadian provinces had to join NERC because by doing so the owners of NERC then had control of everything to do with volume of generation and unit pricing throughout North America.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Before this fuel-switching program was announced, I was discussing with a First Nations man about how Hydro has an overabundance of power and how they regularly have to sell off IPP power at a fraction of what they paid for it.

    His response surprised me: “Sounds like they need to get us to use more electricity!”

    * * *

    According to Stats Can, BC’s population grew by approximately 1 million between 2005 and 2021, from 4.2 to 5.2 million. That’s about a 24% population increase… with zero effect on our hydro consumption. That’s what happens, when technology and the marketplace find ways of getting us more bang for our bucks.

    If Hydro further spikes our rates, we will counter with further ways to dampen our BC Hydro bills — solar panels included.

    Liked by 2 people

    • And it works! My Hydro bill for 2 months (July 28 to September 27) was $13.48..
      That included all my household power (3 freezers and 2 24/7 compressors) plus my EV.
      My previous bill was $13.35 for 2 months. and yes, it will increase slightly in the winter.

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  7. BC Hydro also has 18 diesel powered generating stations operating around the northern part of the province, these generating stations run 24/7/365 to provide electricity to remote communities, several of these communities aren’t that far, as the crow flies, from Christy’s multi $$$$$$ million dollar power line to electrify the Red Chris mine.

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