BC Hydro Environmental Programs Jobs on the Chopping Block

BC Hydro Environmental Programs Jobs on the Chopping Block
But Layoffs Won’t Bring Rates Down, Says Union

For Immediate Release: Oct 13, 2011

Burnaby – The layoffs announced by BC Hydro yesterday are damaging to workers’ families and the environment, says the Canadian Office and Professional Employees union, Local 378 (MoveUP). The crown corporation is laying off employees in order to follow directions from the provincial government, says the union representing office workers at BC Hydro, but the type of employees that are being laid off show there is little real ‘fat’ to be cut.

Among the first jobs on the chopping block are employees who run the Columbia and Peace River programs of BC Hydro’s Fish and Wildlife Compensation Programs (FWCP). The FWCP was created to monitor and compensate for the environmental damage caused by BC Hydro’s hydroelectric dams and other infrastructure. The FWCP program coordinates its environmental work with First Nations, community groups and environmental organizations.

“This is appalling,” said MoveUP President David Black, “These jobs are the definition of green jobs – jobs our province should be encouraging and supporting, not slashing in a cynical exercise to appear cost-conscious.”

Black pointed out that, at last count, BC Hydro was committed to $25 billion dollars in private power contracts, with a short term annual commitment of $1.4 billion dollars. “These job cuts to environmental programs like the FWCP are nickel and dime compared to private power costs,” said Black.

The Smart Meter Initiative has been budgeted to cost $930 million dollars, which would account for approximately a two percent rate increase on its own.

Private power contracts and Smart Meters aren’t the only big ticket costs incurred by the provincial government’s approach to energy policy. BC Hydro shoulders the costs of transmission interconnection for private power, and for the engineering solutions necessary to bring that expensive power onto BC Hydro’s grid. There were also enormous costs associated with hiving off BC Hydro’s transmission services into the separate BC Transmission Corporation – a phenomenal waste of money which admitted only a few years later when the provincial government re-integrated the two crown corps.

“Let’s be clear,” said Black, “This is not about keeping prices down or being the most efficient utility – this is political direction from the provincial government. They are trying to hide the disastrous impacts of their own policies – which are the real reason rates went skywards – by lashing out at people’s livelihoods.”

MoveUP calls on the provincial government to reinstate full powers to the BC Utilities Commission, and ask the Commission to undertake an independent, arms-length rate review.

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