Sticker Shock: BC Hydro customers in for big electricity bill surprises

April 24, 2007

BC Hydro customers can expect their electricity bills to escalate
dramatically in coming years, thanks to the provincial government’s
energy policy. It bans BC Hydro from developing new power generation,
instead forcing the Crown Corporation to buy more and more energy from
high-cost private developers -- at prices far higher than those of
other options.

“Our electricity bills are going to be hiked, but
the citizens of BC won’t get any new assets or long-term energy
security in exchange,” says John Calvert, author of Sticker Shock: The Impending Cost of BC Hydro’s Shift to Private Power Developers, released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

examines the high costs of the growing number of new energy purchase
agreements between BC Hydro and private power developers, and
calculates the impact they will have on future electricity rates. He
finds that:

  • In its 2006 tender call, BC Hydro committed to a
    staggering $9.5 billion in new electricity generation contracts from
    private power developers over the next 25 years at prices far, far
    higher than current electricity market rates.
  • BC Hydro’s own
    estimates show that the 2006 tender call alone will mean an 8.1%
    increase in consumer rates -- and the new BC Energy Plan ensures there
    will be many more such calls, as energy demand continues to grow.
  • Yet
    despite the enormous sums ratepayers will be spending, the public will
    get no assets, no protection from future price increases and no energy
    security once the contracts with private developers terminate.
  • Private
    investors will be free to export their energy to the US, once the
    initial contracts with BC Hydro expire, in order to get even higher

“The government claims these deals are needed to meet our growing
energy demands, but this simply isn’t true,” says Calvert. “BC Hydro
has a number of much better options that would maintain public control
over our energy resources and provide long term energy security and
price protection for BC residents.”

Calvert recommends that the provincial government:

  • Repatriate the large block of “downstream benefits” energy owed to BC by the US under the terms of the Columbia River Treaty.
  • Make greater use of the potential energy that can be provided by Columbia Power, the publicly-owned regional energy utility.
  • Restrict private energy exports to ensure that energy generated in BC is available to meet the needs of BC customers.
  • Lift
    the current ban on BC Hydro building new generation facilities and
    allow it to construct small hydro, wind farm and other renewable energy
    generating facilities instead of purchasing this energy from private
    power developers.
  • Expand Power Smart energy conservation programs.

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Sticker Shock: The Impending Cost of BC Hydro’s Shift to Private Power Developers is available at To arrange an interview, call Terra Poirier at 604-801-5121 x229.