RE: B.C. Liberal fix for BC Hydro rates misses the real problems
VICTORIA - NDP MLA John Horgan's opinion in your paper Wednesday attempted to revise history and I would like to provide a bit more context as there appears to have been a few errors of omission in his article.
Over the past few decades, both NDP and Liberal governments have influenced the development of today's energy policies. In fact, it was the NDP who began the policy development associated with self-sufficiency back in 1992, when it issued a policy document confirming that independent power producers as well as BC Hydro have a role to play in meeting our domestic electricity requirements.
Turn the clock forward five years, and the-then NDP Minister of Employment and Investment announced BC Hydro would enter into a 20-year agreement with independent power producers to supply about 200,000 homes with electricity.
Now the NDP critic seems to suggest BC Hydro should just walk away from signed, legal contracts. As the minister responsible, I want to assure your readers that these contracts will be honoured.
Independent power producers have demonstrated their ability to finance, build and operate facilities effectively. They do us a great service by bringing forward an entrepreneurial spirit, accessing investment money and taking on the associated risks. They also have a proven track record in the development and operation of cost-effective power projects.
These producers have been supplying competitively priced, clean electricity to BC Hydro for more than 20 years. And, our government appreciates that they will continue to help meet some of our growing power needs by developing projects that are sustainable and reliable.
The Province, BC Hydro and independent power producers are working to ensure we are able to meet British Columbia's energy demands of the future. We expect electricity needs will grow by about 40 per cent over the next 20 years and that means new sources of clean, reliable and cost-effective electricity will be needed.
BC Hydro's estimates for growing demand lead me to believe there is an important role for independent power producers to play moving forward.
The recent BC Hydro review addressed both what the corporation can do to meet the future needs of its customers, and how government can set them up for future success.
The provincial government has been very clear - we will do our part too. Recommendations about key policies that drive costs for BC Hydro will be reviewed, including the definition for self sufficiency which ensures British Columbia has enough power to meet its future needs.
The reality is the industry and government both have a role to play to ensure we will be energy self-sufficient in the future and that we develop a smart grid that depends on clean energy. By working together, we are confident we can reduce future increases to BC Hydro's rates, and create a globally competitive industry that can attract industrial-based investment and jobs. Our focus as a government is on those goal posts.
Why? Because, we plan to use these recommendations to create a stronger publicly owned utility in BC Hydro, which is in a sound position to keep rates down for its customers while stimulating economic development in the province.
By reviewing BC Hydro's business practices and government's policies today, I am confident future generations of BC families will continue to enjoy some of lowest electricity rates in North America.
Minister of Energy and Mines