Media Release: Possible Break Up of BC Hydro Being Kept Under Wraps

March 17, 2011

BC Hydro Documents filed this week at the BC Utilities Commission fail to highlight major shake-up

A major restructuring may be underway BC Hydro that could result in the crown corporation being broken up into several different entities, according to information obtained by the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 378 (MoveUP).

BC Hydro and its outsourced arm, Accenture, have told MoveUP that a major restructuring is under way at Hydro that could result in further fracturing of BC Hydro through multiple outsourcing agreements. Under this restructuring, a new series of outsourcing contracts may be handed out and Accenture, which currently has the contract for about one third of BC Hydro’s privatized operations, could be gone.

However, details about the restructuring—called the Long Term Sourcing Strategy, or LTSS— are completely absent from Hydro’s Rate Increase Application, which was just filed with the BC Utilities Commission. Changes of this magnitude, which could significantly impact upon hydro rates, the number of people employed at BC Hydro and its contractors, and the number of jobs located in BC, are routinely documented in filings such as these at the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC).

“Accenture first told us about the big shake up at Hydro because they said they were fearful of losing the lucrative outsourcing contract they currently hold,” said MoveUP Vice President, Gwenne Farrell. “Since then we’ve had confirmation directly from BC Hydro that this restructuring is indeed underway, and our next step was to look for details in the BCUC filings.”

Farrell noted that the anticipated restructuring is three times the scale of the 2003 Accenture outsourcing plan. Farrell further advocated that decisions which could so profoundly impact Hydro rates, or result in huge job losses, be brought under the scrutiny of the BCUC as a major change to the utility.

“The BC Liberal government has sought to neuter the BCUC and remove huge decisions like this from the public eye,” said Farrell. “But we may well see BC Hydro split into three or more pieces, customers could be severely impacted, rates could go even higher, and hundreds, maybe thousands of workers will certainly be affected.”

“It is unacceptable that BC Hydro even entertain these changes without engaging its customers who rely on BC Hydro every day, the BCUC, and their workers,” Farrell added.

As Intervenors at the BCUC, MoveUP has written to the Commission requesting they compel BC Hydro to file additional information with details of its Long Term Sourcing Strategy (LTSS) and how it will impact Hydro operations. Click here for MoveUP’s letter to the BCUC.

Some of the details of the LTSS obtained by MoveUP are in a BC Hydro discussion document.

The original outsourcing agreement with Accenture was the subject of a long hearing application at the BCUC to ensure minimum impact to customers and the workforce.

MoveUP represents workers at BC Hydro, Accenture and throughout BCs energy industry.