Construction continues on the Site C dam project in northeastern B.C., with an estimated cost of more than $10 billion and completion expected in 2024. (B.C. Hydro)

NDP looks for ways to rein in B.C. Hydro rates

Internal review looks for cost cutting, new revenue sources

The B.C. NDP government’s first effort to slow down B.C. Hydro rates was rejected by regulators, and now they are trying again.

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announced a two-part review of the provincially owned electrical utility Monday, after dam construction and deferred debt forced a three per cent rate increase in April. That followed a 3.5 per cent increase in 2017, part of the B.C. Liberal government’s 10-year rate plan.

RELATED: NDP’s BC Hydro rate freeze refused

Now an internal ministry team will seek ways to “refresh” the previous government’s rate plan, which was announced in 2013 and included increases totalling up to 28 per cent over five years.

RELATED: BC Hydro rate plan maps big increases

Premier John Horgan campaigned last year on a promise to freeze B.C. Hydro rates while a review of accumulated debt and major projects like the Site C dam on the Peace River were conducted. His government reluctantly decided to continue Site C, with cost estimated at more than $10 billion.

The B.C. Utilities Commission then refused B.C. Hydro’s application for a rate freeze in February.

The government intends to appoint an expert panel later this year. Its role is to “ensure B.C. Hydro is well positioned to maximize opportunities flowing from shifts taking place in the global and regional energy sectors, technological change and climate action,” according to a ministry statement.

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