Re: Tom Fletcher column — BC Hydro rate freeze refused
The Minister of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources, Michelle Mungall, recently admitted that BC Hydro is in a “financial mess.” With deferred debt and multiple regulatory accounts, contractual obligations for electricity from independent suppliers now reaching $50 billion or more, would a prudent solution be to incur another $12 Billion for an unnecessary project? “No”!!!
What about the cumulative effect on BC residents, both ratepayers and taxpayers… aren’t they the same? — of ICBC’s “financial mess” as well? BC Hydro and the provincial government are playing a shell game, crying that money already wasted on Site C would have to be either recovered in five years, or added to taxpayers obligations. This is a lie.
Horgan, James, Eby, Heyman and Mungall and other ministers want us to believe that stopping Site C “can’t be done.” Horgan stated “my hands are tied,” to which he refuses to provide details. Even Weaver, a staunch Site C opponent prior to his being elected, has become unusually quiet on further challenges to government.
Financial planning is required of any person or business owing more than their income, i.e., pending bankruptcy. They are legally required to state income and expenses, debts and assets, and to have a plan to reduce expenses. Why do the Auditor General and Premier not require BC Hydro to do the same?
Both BC Hydro and ICBC rates must increase by substantial amounts, because the last few years of revenue have greatly fallen short of “expenses”, including “dividend” payments to government. Rate increases have been manipulated by the former Liberal government to mislead the public into believing that B.C. is living within its means; that income will cover expenses. It has fallen billions of dollars short! Some “financial mess”!
Now what? We need to pay more! Stop using the credit card, stop wasting money on useless, gold plated projects. Stop pretending we can bury expenses by calling them assets. Stop pretending that we will be able to pay them more easily in future. What if there are fewer residents, and we waste less? What if we transition to less energy per unit of output? What if we get it wrong? What if there were another 10 year recession? What happens when BC Hydro’s revenues drop?
Meanwhile we accumulate ten more years at a billion a year of debt for BC Hydro with a project that is not required, and if additional power were needed, there are cheaper alternative sources.
BC Hydro and the BC government would be well-advised to stop multi-billion projects that have a high probability of being unnecessary, certainly until we sort out the excesses to date, and find out if we really can pay off the huge accumulated debts.
Prudence dictates stopping or at least slowing the cash flow from huge projects like Site C, and additional capital projects — transmission lines, substations, various upgrades, etc. by at least 25 percent.
Ideally, terminate Site C to ensure we will not add another $10.7 Billion to the existing nightmare we are in.
Premier Horgan, ministers and MLA’s — are you listening?
We expect and deserve an answer.
-Roger Bryenton, Vancouver, B.C.