Province freezing BC Hydro rates
The British Columbia government announced yesterday it is freezing BC Hydro rates and “putting an end to the years of spiralling electricity costs that have made life less affordable for B.C. homeowners and renters,” a Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources press release noted
BC Hydro rates have gone up by more than 24% in the last four years, and by more than 70% since 2001, said Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Michelle Mungall, adding that in 2016, BC Hydro applied to the BC Utilities Commission for three years of increases, with a three per cent increase planned next year, but will be pulling back its request, consistent with this administration’s commitment to a rate freeze.
“After years of escalating electricity costs, British Columbians deserve a break on their bills,” said Mungall, Nelson-Creston MLA. “From the moment we took office, we’ve taken action to make life more affordable. As part of that, we’re going to make sure that BC Hydro is working for the benefit of all British Columbians and that its rates reflect that commitment.”
The rate freeze will provide government the time to undertake a comprehensive review of BC Hydro. That review will identify changes and cost savings to keep rates low while ensuring BC Hydro has the resources it needs to continue to provide clean, safe and reliable electricity, the ministry press release explained.
Details of the scope and process for the review will be developed once government has made a final decision on Site C.
After completing a comprehensive review of BC Hydro, any cost and revenue adjustments identified will be reflected in rates starting in April 2019.
The rate freeze follows government’s commitment in its September budget update to phase out the provincial sales tax on electricity.
In response to yesterday’s announcement, opposition Liberal Party energy critic Tracy Redies said government is merely delaying decisions that should be made today and the freeze will cost BC Hydro $150 million.