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.
The case is clear. British Columbia’s Government decided to reduce the public share of natural gas revenues to almost nothing. This is despite substantial growth in the quantities of natural gas being extracted.
Perhaps an even more vile set of falsehoods is BC Hydro’s continuing claims that demand for electricity by its BC consumers has been growing steadily. That has led to excessive capital spending that measures in the billions.
Check out the fine work on electoral reform by Merv Adey 2018 fellowship recipient Andrew Seal. It’s a fabulous five part series published by The Tyee. We’d like to raise additional funds to initiate the next fellowship. You can be sure it will support a comprehensive examination of a subject important to all British Columbians.
British Columbia sees itself in competition with Alberta to attract gas exploration and production companies. As a result, both provinces have been in a race to the bottom. By giving away its natural gas resource, BC has reached bottom and through its plan to provide below cost electricity, the Horgan Government policy is to pay producers to remove this natural resource. Quite a change from the NDP’s promises before the 2017 election.
Paul Starr of Princeton University wrote The Limits of Privatization. In the paper, he discusses an effect in which influence on government now comes from the “enlarged class of private contractors and other providers dependent on public money.”
Tax expenditures, represent a tax break that government offers people and corporations in support of policy objectives. It’s forgone revenue, or money that government doesn’t collect, but could if it didn’t offer that tax break. In 2016/17, tax expenditures in B.C. accounted for over $7 billion in foregone revenue.
BC NDP’s unwillingness to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to investigate corruption in public administration is one more sign of timidity, a thing becoming the Horgan Government’s hallmark. We’ve seen much evidence of illegal money laundering at casinos and no significant penalties have been assessed against corporation or individuals. Business as usual continues and, good business it’s been for insiders.
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…
In real terms, the BC government’s natural resource revenues in 2018 were 37% of the level in 2001, despite material increases in output.
Pal explained that I had wasted time reading platforms and promises. He said the only method of judging real intentions is to scrutinize a politician’s finances. Give me a list of contributors and full details of a candidate’s financial records. I’ll know exactly what to expect without reading platforms or listening to promises. Tell me who a politician is beholden to and I can figure out what they are going to do.
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.
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.
BC’s fossil fuel industry benefited from credits worth $902 million in fiscal year 2018 and $4.2 billion in the past five years. Each of the jobs in oil and gas extraction cost BC taxpayers $185,000. A similar amount spent on reducing dependence on fossil fuels would have been more effective in creating jobs and protecting the environment.
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.
Tax expenditures are subsidies delivered through the taxation system. These promote policy goals of government but are subject to far less scrutiny and disclosure than direct spending. The primary beneficiaries of tax expenditures are Canada’s wealthiest citizens and corporations. In British Columbia, natural gas producers, many with foreign ownership, are milking a very generous cash cow.
The Fraser Institute declares Tax Freedom Day each year. It is an inaccurate trick to further interests of the millionaires and billionaires for whom the “charity” works. Many of those people use overseas tax shelters so their tax freedom day falls in January. Don’t expect Fraser Institute to mention Earth Overshoot Day, “the date when we (all of humanity) have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year.” Do not expect Canada’s mass media to pay much attention either
We felt outrage over this and other indignities experienced by persons of colour in the USA. For some reason though, we paid no attention to segregation in our own community. Perhaps less conspicuous, but it was real…
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.
BC Government webpages pay little or no attention to climate change as a driver of wildfire. Public servants have sound advice for homeowners and recreationalists but government provides few comments about the elephant in the room, which is fossil fuel production, something BC is working to increase.