Accenture’s BC Hydro Contract Way over Budget

June 21, 2010

British Columbians paying hundreds of millions of dollars more than promised.

By Will McMartin,

On Feb. 27, 2003, New Democrat Joy MacPhail stood in the legislature and exclaimed, “The government has no evidence whatsoever that there will be $250 million in savings over 10 years — none whatsoever. This is a bad deal. It’s a bad deal for the ratepayer. It’s a bad deal for taxpayers…”

She was rising to challenge the Energy and Mines Statutes Amendment Act 2003, an innocuous sounding bill if ever there was one.

But MacPhail and her allies in the opposition saw nothing innocuous in the fact that Bill 10 would allow the B.C. government to “outsource” a number of BC Hydro operations — and transfer nearly 1,600 employees — to Accenture, the global consulting giant.

For the most part, debate revolved around allegations that Premier Gordon Campbell and his BC Liberals were breaking not just one, but two of their 2001 election promises.

The first had been to “Protect BC Hydro and all of its core assets, including dams, reservoirs and power lines under public ownership.”

The second promise had been to “Restore an independent BC Utilities Commission, to re-regulate BC Hydro’s electricity rates.”

But Bill 10 explicitly defined the “support services” that BC Hydro could outsource as those “related to metering for, billing and collecting fees, charges, tariffs, rates and other compensation for electricity sold, delivered or provided by the [BC Hydro and Power] authority ….”

As well, the bill stated that BC Hydro was “not required to obtain any approval, authorization, permit or order under the Utilities Commission Act in connection with the agreement or any actions taken in accordance with the terms of the agreement….”

MacPhail, fellow New Democrat Jenny Kwan and independent MLA Paul Nettleton all demanded to know: How did the transfer of one-third of BC Hydro’s operations and employees to Accenture meet the pledge to “Protect BC Hydro”?

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