Category: BC Hydro

BC Hydro: a financial disaster that needs fixing

As managed since 2001 under Premiers Campbell, Clark and Horgan, BC Hydro has been an unqualified disaster. The company has used falsehoods to justify capital spending of about $40 billion during a decade and a half of flat demand. Instead of managing BC Hydro for the benefit of citizens, political officials in BC have directed or assented to disastrous utility policies. This is another case of supervision by policy regulators who do not believe in regulation. To them, private interests are foremost, public interests subordinate.

The way forward is privatization of BC Hydro and creation of a strong, independent, and unassailable regulator that ensures citizens are protected from capitalist profiteering and self-interested financial fraud orchestrated by corporate insiders and politicians.

Curiouser and curiouser

English writer Lewis Carroll penned the title words for Alice in 1865. Carroll, born Charles Dodgson, was also an Oxford trained mathematician. Were he a 21st century resident of British Columbia, Carroll might be using that phrase about BC Hydro deals with SNC-Lavalin…

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…

A spendthrift public utility

There is much written here about BC Hydro and 17 years of flat demand for electricity by the utility’s residential, commercial and industrial customers. Despite that, in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021-22, the volume of BC Hydro’s purchases of private power from IPPs increased 21% over the same period the year before…

Stuck in the 20th century

Climate science demands immediate reduction of greenhouse gases. Electricity can replace fossil fuels for many uses, but how that energy is generated and distributed is vitally important. As a monopoly able to charge whatever it needs to survive, BC Hydro can stumble along, perhaps for another 20 years, relying on legacy technology. But as the utility’s prices rise, customers will look for other solutions. When that happens, call the corporate undertaker.

Money for nothing…

In the year ended March 2021, BC Hydro bought 14,630 gigawatt-hours of electricity from independent power producers (IPPs). The utility paid $1,403,000,000 for that power, an average of $95,899 per gigawatt-hour. Meanwhile, BC Hydro sold surplus electricity on trade markets. It realized $42,520 per gigawatt-hour on those sales, a per-GWh difference of $53,379.

Inept or worse?

At the legislated deadline, and just before the last holiday weekend of summer 2021, BC Hydro released its financial results for the period April 2020 to March 2021. The utility’s annual service report contains pages of interest to serious analysts, but most of it is bumf, likely read only by the company’s PR minions. But a few pages reveal information that government would rather people ignore…

Unchecked commercial fraud

Corporate media can’t be bothered to report what is happening at BC Hydro. Facts are readily available; they’re just not examined. The reason why was explained by the organization Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR): “Independent, aggressive and critical media are essential to an informed democracy. But mainstream media are increasingly cozy with the economic and political powers they should be watchdogging.”

Leadership failures

Energy democracy is a social movement aiming to create a new paradigm for electric power supply. The objective is to link social justice with technical innovations by involving local communities in creation and ownership of renewable energy sources. Since the 1960s, BC Hydro has destroyed land and dispossessed or marginalized residents to complete megaprojects. While publicly owned, it is a monopolistic business empire stuck in a 20th century mindset. The company has routinely misinformed citizens, using lies to justify continuous expansion despite zero demand growth for the better part of two decades…

Deception and duplicity

While John Horgan’s government was almost doubling the Site C budget to C$16 billion, the Biden administration was getting ready to approve a C$3.4 billion wind project off the coast of Massachusetts. The per megawatt cost of the wind project is less than 30% of Site C’s capital cost per megawatt and it destroys no farmland, violates no Indigenous rights agreements, and presents no threats to nearby communities…

BC NDP arming opponents

Like BC Liberals before them, BC NDP is dishonest about BC Hydro operations and the Site C megaproject. Government joins BC Hydro and continues lying about demand growth. At the same time, they hide embarrassing information about the dam and its out of control budget. The Horgan path is inexplicable when pre-2017 NDP statements are reviewed. The explanation will be had some years from now when NDP opponents are denouncing the party’s competence. Liberals used BC Ferries as a hammer for 15+ years after the 1990s but the financial blunders at BC Hydro are much, much larger…

Lesson to be learned

A Bloomberg Quicktake video, How Boeing Lost Its Way (embedded below) put me in mind of BC Hydro. Years ago, both companies were effective in delivering value for money to customers. Then attitudes changed. Growing bigger became more important than growing better…

BC Hydro quandary

Unrestrained capital spending and needed write-offs of valueless items will result in major rate increases. But that presents a critical problem. Alternatives for consumers are steadily getting easier and less costly. BC Hydro is entering the utility death spiral.

BC Hyjacked, provincial utility

In the early 2000s, Liberals changed BC Hydro’s primary purpose from utility service for the public to financial service for party friends and other special interests. BC NDP carries on much as before, except they slightly altered beneficiaries of the utility’s massive spending…

True cost of hydro power?

Proponents of megaprojects routinely underestimate financial costs. After conducting an extensive study, top experts concluded this is caused by “strategic misrepresentation, that is, lying.” In addition, proponents invariably ignore environmental and social costs of megaprojects…

Site C bywords: misinformation and secrecy

Misinformation and secrecy have become the bywords at BC Hydro and at the Premier’s office and the provincial energy ministry. Because the decision makers involved with Site C are determined to spread misinformation, they rely on secrecy to keep evidence out of the view of project critics and the BC Utilities Commission…

Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead

When the project assurance board was populated by insiders and avid Site C cheerleaders, inevitably, it would fail to protect the public interest. Everyone involved knew that but were satisfied with the status quo. The main responsibility for massive waste and destruction in northeast BC lies not with self-interested enablers and not to the previous government; it belongs to the man who four years ago needed money to wage an election campaign. To get it, he made promises to a group of trade union leaders.