BC Utilities Commission Review Should Focus on Transparency, Access: BC Hydro Union
Burnaby – The union representing inside workers at BC Hydro is expressing concern with the possible restrictions the government is placing on their recently-announced BC Utilities Commission review.
On Monday, April 28, the provincial government announced their plan to review the BCUC. In that announcement the government signaled the review would assess the commission’s “ability to deliver clear and timely decisions”, inferring that information requests and interveners at the commission may be a problem.
“It’s not the BCUC’s ability to make decisions that concerns me,” said MoveUP President David Black. “What worries me is this government’s track record of ignoring and sidelining the BCUC while they pursue damaging policy, or when they change the rules entirely.”
In 2010 the provincial government put the finishing touches on the Clean Energy Act, which forced the independent BCUC to approve whatever rates necessary to make B.C. “electricity self-sufficient” (as defined by government). This was needed to pay for a long list of projects – including smart meters and independent power projects – that government then exempted from BCUC review and scrutiny. The BC Liberals have since backed away from some of these policies, but only after incurring millions of debt the BCUC might have otherwise mitigated.
“The BCUC needs an overhaul and needs to be given the tools to do its job better,” said Jim Quail, an experienced regulatory lawyer who works with MoveUP. “But it’s not the information requests or interveners who are the problem. Access and accountability are vital to a well-run regulator.”
“It’s our sincere hope the government continues the work it has begun to undo the damage done by a decade of misdirected policy,” said MoveUP Vice-President Gwenne Farrell. “We applaud many of their stated goals: returning BCUC to the driver’s seat with respect to rates, undertaking necessary maintenance and paying down the deferral accounts. But this will be best done by keeping the BCUC open, accessible and responsive to the concerns of all stakeholders.”
MoveUP Communications Director