An independent report, titled “Zapped” and commissioned by Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Michelle Mungall, takes square aim at the previous government for rate hikes and rising costs.

The report, written by former Treasury Board Director Ken Davidson, blamed the former BC Liberal government for a policy of self-sufficiency using clean energy placed on BC Hydro.

“To keep electricity rates affordable, the Government of BC is taking steps to cuts costs and increase revenues at BC Hydro,” Mungall announced.

A key sticking point: the Liberal’s policy of pushing through contracts with independent power producers.

“The Ken Davidson report that was released yesterday on purchases from private power producers concludes that BC Hydro bought too much energy, the wrong type of energy, and paid too much for it,” Mungall said.

There are 21 independent power projects on Vancouver Island. One is the Harmac Pacific pulp mill in Nanaimo, which has built a generator that produces electricity. The excess is sold to BC Hydro.

The province considers companies like Harmac critical to the local economy and will continue working with them.  Private power contracts will “cost ratepayers an estimated $16.2 billion over 20 years.  But BC Liberal’s energy critic, Grey Kylo, said when BC Hydro negotiated contracts, the price of electricity skyrocketed with no end in sight.

“The actual state of the market back 15, 20 years ago, was very different than the market is today. and to second guess decisions that were made by governments 15 or 20 years ago based on what we know today, is not fair.” Kylo said.

Hydro rates will increase by 8.1 per cent over the next five years for British Columbia households.  The first scheduled increase of 1.8 per cent will come into effect on April 1.  Then 0.7% April 1, 2020, followed by 2.2% April 1, 2021, and then 3.2% on April 1, 2023.

Mary Griffin