Utility rates a shock to the system

Since 2007, BC Hydro and Fortis have become the blunt instruments of public policy

If you purchase your electricity from Fortis (or BC Hydro) and were shocked by your latest electricity bill, don’t check your meter, it is working perfectly.

Since 2007, BC Hydro and Fortis have become the blunt instruments of public policy. The policies are meant to force B.C. residents to change their behaviour in the name of climate change — by artifi cially increasing the cost of electricity.

Through propaganda campaigns that encourage us to use less power, school programs that indoctrinate children into believing that energy is bad and “conservation rate” schemes that penalize customers for using “more than their fair share” — the public utilities have been co-opted by government ministries, the goals of which are to deny B.C. residents affordable access to natural resources they own.

If this seems Orwellian, it is. B.C.’s hydroelectric assets were developed and paid for by the people of B.C. The public utilities were granted effective monopolies to generate and distribute electricity under the watchful eye of the B.C. Utilities Commission. The BCUC was meant to provide some protection from predatory pricing on the part of the utilities in return for the guaranteed returns of a captive market for the utilities.

B.C. has benefited from nearly unlimited, affordable electricity that has helped to maintain a vibrant private sector, and an affordable lifestyle for most British Columbians.

In 2007, the Campbell Liberals were faced with two opportunities and a difficult election. On the election front, Campbell was politically toxic and unelectable. On the opportunistic front, junk science and media hysteria had whipped up a frenzy of global warming alarmism, and the Liberals faced the prospect of appearing to be “enemies of the planet” if they didn’t “do something” to help cool the globe.

So they did something. The Liberals passed clean air regulations, the Carbon Tax, and a range of clean energy “investments”. In a masterstroke, the Liberals cut the legs out from under the Green Party and removed a major plank of the NDP’s campaign platform. The Liberals won the election.

In addition to the political gains, it was not lost on the Liberals that the “caring” about the environment was a great way to raise revenue through increased taxes and fees — and they went about saving the planet by raising revenue with a zeal usually reserved for parties on left.

The fly in the ointment, of course, is that the entire premise of climate change is based on the demonstrably false hypothesis that increased CO2 in the atmosphere raises global temperatures. B.C.’s hydroelectricity produces no CO2. Increased use of B.C. hydropower cannot “contribute to climate change.”

This truism makes no difference any political party in B.C. The Liberals, NDP and Greens are all eager to use BC Hydro and Fortis to take more of your money, regardless of how much CO2 you may or may not produce. The Liberals only bear the dubious distinction of implementing the wrongheaded policies.

Funding the consequences of these policies, subsidizing wind, solar, bio-mass and run of river “clean energy” cannot be achieved via the tax on carbon dioxide. The Carbon Tax actually pays out more in various carve outs for protected groups and industries than it brings in at the gas pump or via your hydro bill.

The solution for the government is to off-load financing responsibility for clean energy to BC Hydro and Fortis. Since the Public Utilities Commission must rubber stamp any rate increases, and the BCUC is an extension of the government, we are faced with increased electricity rates, “conservation penalties” and soon we will see rate differentials based on use during peak times. All facilitated by government mandated “smart meters” that calculate usage down to the second.

The notion of man-caused climate change has been discredited, and B.C.’s hydroelectricity would never contribute to the problem, were it real. When one hears a “climate change denier” suggest that the motive for climate alarmism is wealth transfer and more government control over the individual, one can scoff — but if one is buying electricity from a B.C. utility, one is living it, and paying for it.

Relax, your meter is working perfectly.




Mark Walker is the publisher of the Penticton Western News.