The BC Liberal government’s policy which forced BC Hydro to meet an artificial self-sufficiency target for energy purchase has been proven to be a huge mistake, and amending legislation which is currently being debated in the House is proof, says Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.
Bill 30, the Energy and Mines Statutes Amendment Act, 2012 repeals the requirement that BC Hydro purchase more electricity than the province actually uses, a requirement that was referred to as ‘self-sufficiency’.
As a result of the ‘self-sufficiency’ requirement, BC Hydro was forced to sign long-term energy purchase agreements with private river diversion projects at a very high cost, and then sell off to other jurisdictions that excess energy at much lower prices. Although the government attempted to sell the BC Energy Plan as a move toward green energy, it was simply a way to subsidize the private power industry in British Columbia.
“The continuing cost of ‘self-sufficiency’ to ratepayers in British Columbia over the next 4 years will be $1.28 billion,” said Macdonald. “And the cost to the environment has been the destruction of a number of British Columbia’s rivers and streams.”
But electricity rates and the environment were not the only casualties of the BC Energy Plan. Democracy was also under attack as the BC Liberals forced the industrialization of some of British Columbia’s rivers against the will of local people.
“An earlier Bill 30 in 2006, often referred to as the Ashlu Bill, removed local governments from decision-making on whether or not private river diversion projects should be built on local rivers. When local people said they were against a proposed power project on the Ashlu River, the government simply changed the rules removing local decision-making,” continued Macdonald.
The decision to cancel the ‘self sufficiency’ requirement proves that the people who opposed the BC Liberal Energy Plan were right.
“People across this constituency saw the BC Liberal energy plan for exactly what it was. It was a way to transfer public wealth into private hands through the privatization of our rivers.
“Local people knew that it was bad business for BC Hydro and that it was the wrong thing to do for the environment. And local people would not accept the erosion of their democratic right to make decisions for themselves.”