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B.C. Hydro working to keep rates down

Re: “Debt, subterfuge will cost B.C. Hydro ratepayers,” Oct. 22. B.C. Hydro’s rates rank third- to fifth-lowest across North America for all customer sectors.

Re: “Debt, subterfuge will cost B.C. Hydro ratepayers,” Oct. 22.

B.C. Hydro’s rates rank third- to fifth-lowest across North America for all customer sectors. We have maintained this ranking even while making vital investments into the aging electricity system. Keeping them as low as possible is our No. 1 priority.

How are we doing that? By managing our costs while reducing the amount B.C. Hydro pays to the province, as detailed in the 10-year rates plan.

Electricity is critical — we depend on it to power homes, businesses, schools and hospitals. We are investing $2.4 billion per year to ensure our system remains reliable.

For example, the John Hart Generating Station in Campbell River was built in 1947 and needs $1 billion in new investment to protect it in an earthquake, improve reliability and protect downstream fish habitat. The fairest way to pay for investments like this is spreading out payments over several years, as you would a mortgage.

Like many other Canadian utilities, we use regulatory accounts to keep rates stable and fair. B.C. Hydro has used these accounts since the early 1990s and we are paying them down. At the same time, the rates plan reduces the dividend B.C. Hydro pays to government to zero until our debt-to-equity ratio reaches 60/40 — comparable to other Canadian utilities.

Our revenue-requirements application — our detailed plan for the next three years — will be submitted to the B.C. Utilities Commission for review next year. This open and transparent process allows the regulator and the public to review BC Hydro’s plans and financials.

Affordable. Reliable. Clean. These are the guiding principles of B.C.’s power system.

Jessica McDonald, president and CEO

B.C. Hydro