Plutonic Power Gets Another Massive Government Handout

Plutonic Power/General Electric Gets Extra Subsidy from the Federal Government

March 3 2009

Burnaby, BC – Plutonic Power, the private power developer whose dams are jointly owned with General Electric, is due to receive a substantial subsidy from the federal government once their Toba-Montrose dams come online in 2010, according to a document obtained by the union representing workers in the BC energy sector.

This new subsidy is in addition to millions of dollars in handouts that Plutonic already gets from the provincial government.

Currently, private power projects like those Plutonic is building in Toba-Montrose already see hugely reduced water rental rates, the waiver of PST on construction materials, and also receive vastly inflated electricity rates that are far higher than even market rates.

"The high cost and low returns of private dams like Plutonic/GE’s are already resulting in skyrocketing BC Hydro rate hikes that threaten to make our electricity system unviable, and now the federal government is giving Plutonic another handout," said Andy Ross, President of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 378 (MoveUP).

"BC Hydro rates are already skyrocketing to subsidize these projects, and now giant American companies like GE are going to make even more money from BC ratepayers," added Ross.

Prior to the announcement of this new subsidy, Plutonic was estimating year-one annual revenue of $67 million dollars. The new subsidy will add $10 per megawatt hour produced, equating an extra $7.25 million per year of government subsidies.

"The question that taxpayers should be asking themselves is: why should we pay an incentive payment to a company bankrolled by General Electric and already has a guaranteed inflated income?" asked Ross. "If anything, it is BC Hydro, not Plutonic/GE that should be getting this subsidy," Ross added.

In addition to the two private dams that Plutonic/GE are already building in the Toba-Montrose, they are proposing to build 17 new dams and requisite powerhouses and transmission lines in neighbouring Bute Inlet. General Electric has committed $4 billion to this project.

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