There is irony in the NDP complaining about Liberal ideology driving the current policy that forces BC Hydro to pay a premium for so-called “privately” generated electricity as a result of a political push to create a ‘green energy’ industry in B.C.
That the NDP is prepared to sacrifice the economic well-being of British Columbians at the alter of radical environmentalism is a given. That the Liberals were prepared to do so for purely political purposes is hardly more worthy of celebration.
With the passing of the 2008 Climate Action Plan and Bill 17, the so-called Clean Energy Act of 2010, the B.C. Liberals achieved three political objectives, all of which lead to significantly higher energy prices for all of B.C.
The Liberals imposed North America’s first carbon tax, which raised the cost of living for each B.C. resident and has no impact on global temperature or carbon dioxide emissions. It did negate claims the NDP would have in the 2009 election that the Liberals “didn’t care about the environment.” B.C.’s carbon tax somehow ‘cost’ B.C. nearly $1.15 billion in 2012, while generating only $962 million in revenue. The global temperature hasn’t changed in 16 years.
The second objective was related to B.C.’s participation in the ill-fated, but little known Western Climate Initiative. The WCI was a marketing effort for energy-producing jurisdictions, like B.C., to sell their energy into the California market. The California energy market, while large, is being made increasingly dysfunctional by layers and layers of ‘green’ state regulations and laws. It is interesting to note that after all B.C.’s efforts, even our hydroelectric energy is deemed not to be green enough for consumption in California.
Thirdly, the B.C. Liberals under Campbell and Clark were encouraged by rent seekers to create the conditions under which electricity could be produced by private entities. On the face of it, encouraging private investment is justifiable. Unfortunately the concept of encouraging development to meet a market demand for more electricity has become, under the Clean Energy Act, an exercise in crony mercantilism.
The act provides developers of private energy the ability to milk taxpayers to ensure profitability. The Standing Offer and Feed in Tariff provisions in the act require the government to enter into long-term contracts with power projects. The act requires the government to pay a rate to the provider that ensures all costs are covered. The act also prohibits the B.C. Utilities Commission from amending rates.
Currently BC Hydro generates hydro electricity for about two cents/kw. Private electricity costs up to 19 cents/kw. BC Hydro is bound to purchase all private power at rates beneficial to the private operator — forever — and B.C. electricity users pay the subsidy.
The act mandated smart meters that allow BC Hydro to charge differential rates to users based on volume consumption and time of use. Those who get BC Hydro bills see an increase in rate after a certain volume of electricity is consumed. Typically, higher volume consumption results in a discount. In BC Hydro’s case a premium is charged, and the premium goes to finance the impacts of the Climate Action Plan and the Clean Air Act. Coming soon we can expect “time of use” premiums charged for electricity use during peak use times.
There are no health risks related to smart meters, and those who protest the meters on that basis do a disservice, by delegitimizing rational discussion of the true evils of smart meters.
BC Hydro’s projected billion-dollar loss, while astonishing given it has a virtual monopoly, is not the fault of BC Hydro management. It is the direct result of meddling, this time by the Liberals, to address the politically driven fraud of climate change. The underlying hypothesis of increased atmospheric CO2 driving temperature has been observed to be false at every turn.
The public policies that politicians of all stripes have imposed on us to address this non-issue will haunt us for years. Perhaps the B.C. Liberals can be forgiven for climbing aboard the climate change bandwagon for political purposes. Perhaps not. To suggest the NDP would be any different in this case is absurd. Neither party is, or should be particularly concerned about the climate. There is too much money at stake.
Mark Walker is the publisher of the Penticton Western News.