Category: BC Hydro

Empires expand, until they disintegrate

BC Hydro’s 2019 Annual Service Plan Report shows the quantity of electricity sold to residential, commercial and industrial customers in BC is still flat. The value of 2019 sales is increased by BC Hydro’s $1.2 billion purchase of Teck’s majority interest in the Waneta dam, a generating site on the Columbia River southeast of Trail. Power produced at Waneta still goes to Teck but, since the dam is now 100% publicly owned, all electricity produced there becomes a BC Hydro sale…

New Era of Truthfulness at BC Hydro?

In BC Hydro’s most recent annual report, the company promised “one of the largest expansions of electrical infrastructure in British Columbia’s history.” To gain approval for massive spending, BC Hydro doctored load forecasts, issuing a steady stream of pronouncements about demand increases…

Path of destruction

I’ve argued on this website that BC Hydro’s ratepayers are victims of corporate inertia. The company continues to do what it properly did for its first 45 years. Unfortunately, now 58 years old, the company’s failure to adapt puts it on a path of destruction.

Liberal legacy

Years ago, SFU Professor and private power promoter Mark Jaccard assured us “independent power producers who will lose their shirts — not ours – – if they get it wrong.” In his 2018 retrospective report, government finance expert Ken Davidson concluded that somebody got it wrong but definitely not the independent power producers.

“A cathartic and vindicating moment”

Throughout that time, I couldn’t understand why the obvious insanity of costly private power programs didn’t raise the ire of many citizens. For that, I lay a large part of the blame on radio and Press Gallery pundits. Some had personal interests affecting their points of view and some believed that health of the business coalition party ranked above the public interest.

Power from the powerful

Politically connected individuals took advantage of citizens’ desire for clean, renewable energy and the Liberals wrote contracts with “lucky firms” that bore no relationship to market prices, guaranteed massive private profits and ensured all financial risks stayed with the public. The contracts in British Columbia last as long as sixty years and allow prices that are as much as 5x market value. In addition, the contracts have annual inflation escalators, a privilege allowed no other commercial segment. All taxpayers get is more power to sell at a loss.

Site C, again

Site C did not proceed through ignorance and stupidity. It was a mean spirited and carefully designed choice to favour special economic and political interests above all others. Residential and small business ratepayers were viewed as powerless consumers who, with sufficient advertising and mistruths, could be convinced to believe Site C was appropriate and inevitable, even a wise choice. The net effect is to remove money from many pockets and deposit it into the pockets of a few.

Spendthrifts at work

BC Hydro’s quarterly report for the period ended September 30, 2018 shows the utility is very good at some things. Specifically, borrowing and spending money. In the thirteen years from 2005, assets employed to service BC consumers have almost tripled in value. Trouble is, actual sales to residential, commercial and industrial consumers are less in 2018 than in 2005.

Disinformation campaign

John Horgan’s Government is condoning a disinformation campaign that would make despots of the world proud. And, we’re paying billions because of it. Corporate media is today publishing BC Hydro propaganda under the guise of it being authentic news. An example…

Still buying high, selling low

In the current year, BC Hydro expects to export electricity for a price of C$26.50 per megawatt hour. Compare that to the C$91.40/MWh paid independent power producers in the fiscal year ended March, 2018, an amount 28% higher than five years before. Bank of Canada puts inflation at 7% and the average market price barely changed between FY 2013 and FY 2018.

Opprobrium

The analysis by Richard McCandless would be headline material if corporate media were paying attention to the public interest. Burdens imposed on ratepayers measure in the billions and traditional journalists — including the ones who reported for years on far smaller sums lost to fast ferries — report almost no part of the news.

Malfeasance and mismanagement

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.

Die große Lüge

My writings in the past have decried BC Hydro directors and executives surrendering to corporate inertia. Inappropriate rigidity has led to failure in many badly run corporations and it now threatens our giant public utility. But, I now conclude that explanation is too generous to BC policy makers, past and present. We have evidence that shifting energy industry dynamics were anticipated but consciously ignored. Groups with special interests were favoured and fleecing of the public began.

Never retreat, never retract…

BC Hydro suffers a lack of managerial competence, contempt for fiduciary responsibilities, a disregard for present day energy realities and, perhaps most important, a failure of vision. The first exists because Government turned the company into a politicized utility, with senior managers and board members selected for Liberal Party loyalty, not for competence. As a result, BC Hydro dares not plot a new course with even a hint that recent energy policies have been a grand mistake.