NEWS RELEASE · 26th April 2012
After years of wrong-headed energy policy, the B.C. Liberals have finally backed down on self-sufficiency requirements that have cost British Columbians more than a billion dollars, says Skeena MLA Robin Austin.
Austin debated Bill 30 - the Energy and Mines Statutes Amendment Statutes Act, in the legislature Tuesday, focusing on changes to Liberal government policy that forced B.C. Hydro to buy expensive power destined to be exported at a loss to taxpayers.
"The Liberal government rigged energy policy to force B.C. Hydro to buy excessive amounts of electricity from private power producers, which was ultimately destined for export at a huge loss," said Austin.
"They ingrained that policy into law with the Clean Energy Act in 2010, which they forced through the legislature without debate by using closure."
Austin said the policy changes were designed to drive up demand for electricity to be sold for export under the pretence that B.C. needed to be self-sufficient in electricity production, but the government set the bar purposefully high, defining self-sufficiency as having enough power assuming historical 50-year drought conditions, plus an additional 3000 GWh of "insurance" electricity.
"The changes the government brought forward in Bill 30 finally acknowledge the foolishness of their self-sufficiency policy, which has played a role in the 36 per cent rate increases hydro customers have seen over the past few years," said Austin.
Austin noted the impacts of the policy were felt even more by residents of Northern B.C. when Rio Tinto Alcan became a power producer.
“Rio Tinto Alcan becoming the largest power provider in our area divided the community of Kitimat – it divided families,” said Austin. “We would have had our smelter much earlier had this policy not been brought into place.”
Austin noted that he has always been in support of a new smelter and that he simply just wanted it larger and sooner.