British Columbians who pay attention could not have missed a recent suggestion that BC Hydro rates soar by 26.4 per cent over two years.
That’s the kind of news that can trigger coronaries.
The number was floated to a group of senior civil servants by BC Hydro representatives who are also on a committee struck by the B.C. government to determine how to minimize politically risky rate hikes.
According to a leaked memo, the number was presented as a worst-case scenario.
There are some very good reasons, besides smart meters, why rate increases are needed.
For starters, Hydro must pay for capital spending to upgrade its dams, generating stations and transmission lines.
Providing ammunition for opponents of the B.C. Liberals and a sobering realization for their backers, there’s also the inconvenient reality of how the government decreed that proposed rate hikes be restricted.
The order to defer the payment of bills came shortly before an election the Liberals were in real danger of losing. It sure helped them to make their case they are better stewards of the economy than the NDP.
This is not a technique that was invented by the Christy Clark Liberals, or even the B.C. Liberals for that matter.
Yet here we are with Energy Minister Bill Bennett promising to reduce the increase in what we pay for power. At the same time, he rejected any possibility that new rates would be independently reviewed by the BC Utilities Commission.
Bennett is right that British Columbians would be unhappy about such a large jump in what we pay for power.
Heaven forbid that decision would be made without political interference, resulting in rates that accurately reflect a financially untenable position for BC Hydro, one the government has helped to create.
Emasculating the BCUC is just the latest in a long, sad series of examples that illustrate nothing is more important to politicians that getting elected and staying elected.