BC Hydro rates going up 1.8% starting this month
Electronics plugs are seen on a power bar in this file photo. (Giordano Ciampini / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
British Columbians will be paying more for their electricity going forward.
BC Hydro rates went up Monday, meaning customers can expect to see a 1.8 per cent increase on their monthly bills.
The provider says the increase will amount to an extra $1.63 per month for the average residential customer.
The increase is considered "interim," and is part of the government's review of the utility.
Earlier this year, the government that campaigned in part on a promise to freeze hydro rates blamed the BC Liberals for a policy the NDP says puts customers on the hook for billions.
Ratepayers will have to front more than $16 billion over 20 years because the province's previous government pressured BC Hydro to sign long-term contracts with independent power producers, according to a damning report released in February.
"BC Hydro bought too much energy – the wrong type of energy – and paid too much for it," Energy Minister Michelle Mungall said at the time.
According to the report commissioned by the NDP, the Liberal policy championed by then-premier Gordon Campbell cost each household an extra $200 a year.
Describing it as a "sweetheart deal," the NDP alleges the Liberals "manufactured an urgent need for power" and stopped BC Hydro from producing its own.
The Liberal party argues B.C. would have faced a "significant" power shortage had they not made the deal, and said the NDP was looking for someone to blame after failing to deliver on a rate freeze.
Claims in the report have since been disputed by the Clean Energy Association of British Columbia. In a statement issued more than a month after the report was released, the association wrote that it was based on inaccurate information, and that the deal was not forced on BC Hydro.
The group also disagreed with the allegation that the government intentionally created the need for hydro, but that the amount of power purchased was based on BC Hydro's forecast.
The report recommended the hydro rate hike that came into effect Monday, which is less than the 2.6 per cent increase planned under the previous government.
While consumers are paying less than they could have, the hike comes after a three per cent increase in rates put in effect in April 2018, after the B.C. Utilities Commission rejected an application to freeze rates.