MLA Report: Don’t give up the fight to protect public power

The first in a series of articles on BC Hydro and the true costs of the BC Liberal Energy Plan.

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles on BC Hydro and the true costs of the BC Liberal Energy Plan.

With the recent announcement that BC Hydro rates are about to go up by 28 per cent over the next four years, people are reminded that the BC Liberals promised, prior to the election, that they would keep any increases to rates very low.

And how much is this increase going to cost you? British Columbians will pay an average of $300 more per year. For families that are already finding it hard to make ends meet, the increase in their hydro bill will mean even less money available for other necessities such as food and clothing.

BC Hydro, which once provided significant dividends to the province while still maintaining low rates for ratepayers, is now struggling with debt and aging infrastructure. How could this have happen in less than a decade?

While some might characterize the situation as mismanagement by BC Hydro, if you look closely, the most costly decisions have been made by the Premier and cabinet.  This is an example of government interference, pure and simple.

When the BC Liberals passed a law stating that BC Hydro could no longer build new projects but instead must purchase power generated by privately-owned power developments, a scenario was created where private companies were given public rivers and lands to build power projects using ratepayers money from long-term sales contracts at highly inflated rates.

When the BC Liberals removed many BC Hydro decisions from the oversight of the BC Utilities Commission, the need to prove that decisions were in the best interest of ratepayers over the long term was ended.

With each example of BC Liberal interference in BC Hydro, people across this area stood up and said no. In 2008, rallies were held all across this constituency with many hundreds of people protesting against the giveaway of our rivers for private power projects. And at those rallies, speakers such as Rafe Mair and Joe Foy predicted that the actions of the BC Liberal government would result in massive increases in hydro rates and would be significantly detrimental to the financial well-being of BC Hydro.

People in this area fully understood this issue back then, and they used their voices and their votes to speak against the BC Liberals’ failed energy plans. It is important that we remember the real story of how we got here and that we don’t give up the fight to protect public power in this province.

Norm Macdonald is the MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke and can be contacted at norm.macdonald.mla@leg.bc.ca, or by phone at 1-866-870-4188.

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