Ron Cantelon had both good news and bad news in terms of BC Hydro rates.
In an interview Thursday, the Parksville-Qualicum MLA said the utility has significantly scaled back its demands for rate increases.
“Back in March, Hydro applied for a 9.73 per cent increase in rates in each of the next three years, but the premier and Industry Minister (Rich) Coleman asked Hydro to participate in a review,” Centelon said. “Hydro sat down and said let’s take a look at this and agreed to reduce that increase by about half.”
Cantelon said the new figure would see an increase of eight per cent in the first year, followed by 3.9 per cent bumps in each of the next two years.”
The total increase, he added, would mean consumers would see their bills rise by about four to seven dollars per month.
That may be good news for consumers, but it’s not so good for Hydro employees, who Cantelon said would experience cutbacks of their own.
“It will mean a reduction of staff by about 1,000 employees,” he said. “As well, they will have to defer some of the programs they were looking to do and pace them out differently. As well, there would be the usual administrative savings through belt-tightening.”
This, he said, is expected to save the utility about $800 million.
“Its a sign of the times,” he said. “They came to us and we said you had better look at tightening your belt and that’s what they did. They took a hard look at their administrative structure and agreed they could tighten up.”
Cantelon stressed the increases are sustainable and still leave British Columbia in an enviable position.
“We still have lower rates than Alberta,” he said. “We have some of the lowest rates in North America.”
Although he couldn’t say how many jobs would be impacted in the Oceanside area, Cantelon stressed the job cuts will be provincewide, although many of them are expected to be in Vancouver.