My BC – Independent Power Producers – Can This Affect How I Vote May 9?

So here I go again, this time I’d like to tell you a little story about the good, bad and the ugly of British Columbia political persuasion in the electric power industry. During the early years of power and power distribution around our province BC Hydro and Power Authority was established to provide equal access throughout the province aiding the growth for small communities and industry.  Large scale hydro dams were built as transmission lines criss-crossed BC.

The intent of BC Hydro to provide clean, reliable low cost power to all residents and businesses in BC.  Somewhere along the way, things started to change.  Demand increased then levelled in the late 90’s.  Conservation, efficient tools, appliances, motors and electronic advancements helped.  Plans to build power facilities to use newer technologies such as wind, tidal, solar and even nuclear energy proceeded.

The idea of purchasing excess energy from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) evolved.  Problem was there was a great deal of monetary influence starting to steer the energy industry, the best example was ENRON. Traders in ENRON were encouraged to trade and manipulate energy prices based on predicted future values particularly to the deregulated California power grid late 90’s early 2000’s.  Energy prices skyrocketed from greed rather than production.

I recommend you watch the movie “ENRON: Smartest guy in the room”. It will be an eye opener as you think about the parallels to how BC Hydro is currently run.

What happened in BC that started as a good idea under the BCNDP in the 90’s quickly eroded into a similar situation that bankrupted ENRON.  Ex Liberals and their closest business partners saw an opportunity to earn unlimited income so they donated excessively to the BC Liberal party to gain influence to ways they could rape the profits of BC Hydro, a company with a captive consumer base that has the ability to raise it’s rates through a simple increase request with whatever justification they could show the BC Utilities Commission.

Here’s how it works.  An Independent Power Producer arranges to sell excess power back to the BC Hydro grid.  Sounds good in principal.  But what if you could negotiate a deal making assumptions power demand and prices would increase at an exponential rate.  Then you lock into your deal a requirement BC Hydro purchase a preset amount every year whether needed or not.  Now let’s make that deal for a crazy long term contract of 60 years, guaranteeing the amount you receive for your private power will increase every year for all of those 60 years?

Get the picture?  Now if you look at the deals that BC Hydro has made they are set to pay another billion dollars to these producers in fiscal year 2016/2017 despite proof in Hydro’s records demand remained flat for the last 20 years.  It’s important to realize most of these IPP’s are staunch BC Liberal supporters that have negotiated this deal for themselves.

Add in BC Hydro’s dividend to give the appearance BC’s budget is balanced by Hydro borrowing more money and non-standard accounting methods equating future income as present income plus deferral accounts adjusting the numbers to look favourable.  The BC Liberal government decided without a BC utilities commission environmental and financial risk assessment are going ahead with a nine billion dollar mega dam.  A project already destroying prime agricultural land, heritage sites, environmentally sensitive and historic sites.  One wonders who will benefit from all this excess expenditure and it’s plain to see that we the rate payers will pay the price.

Remember what I said at the beginning about the original reason for building the BC Hydro and Power Authority, our largest provincial crown corporation was to keep rates low for everyone. Well guess what, last election in 2013 that saw the Liberals win and their leader Christy Clark scrambling to buy a seat so she could stay leader of her party.  Remember Debt Free BC, the trillion dollar prosperity fund promises from LNG?  I’ll talk about LNG another time, but realize that the photo-op promoting Woodfibre LNG will go ahead is contingent on free electricity to run their plants.  No one’s mentioned the cost of transmission lines to provide the promised industrial power.

We, the citizens of BC are paying more for electricity because the BC Liberals were influenced by their own supporters to give away our resources while we pay for foreign companies to take them and get free power and imaginary conditions to go ahead and take it all.  Ask what your MLA is doing about BC Hydro rates, if they will examine and renegotiate the IPP agreements so that we no longer pay above market value for power we have no market for.

Instead of putting Hydro, the ratepayers in jeopardy for Site C, subsidizing general provincial revenue and lining the pockets of Independent Power Producers we should ask for true transparency and truthful accounting and accountability from our BC Government.

Ask everyone running in your riding what they will do and don’t accept vague answers. We want to make informed decisions May 9.

Tell us the truth politicians or find another job.

I’ll go deeper into the missing money soon,

Next time,

Ryanna Evans.

 

 

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