Hydro pulls plug on power generation idea

Coun. Claire Moglove’s attempt to generate more revenue for the city through the sale of electrical power won’t be possible

Coun. Claire Moglove’s attempt to generate more revenue for the city through the sale of electrical power won’t be possible, according to city staff.

In December, Moglove asked the city to look into the feasibility of purchasing and operating an electric utility as a potential new money maker.

Last week, Laura Ciarniello, the city’s general manager of corporate services, brought forward a report to council explaining why establishing a city-run power generation utility would not be viable.

The city would need to find a willing seller – something that is not likely to happen.

“BC Hydro owns the electrical distribution system in Campbell River and they are not interested in selling,” Ciarniello wrote in her report.

The second factor is the city would need “cash to allow for the purchase of the utility or the borrowing of multi-millions of dollars to finance the purchase.”

BC Hydro has operated the city’s electrical utility since 1949, when the organization was known as the BC Power Commission, which served more than 200 communities across B.C. by 1961.

The BC Power Commission took over operation of the Campbell River Electrical Utility, as it did in many municipalities.

A number of communities did resist the temptation to sell but to date, only six municipalities (Grand Forks, Kelowna, Nelson, New Westminster, Penticton and Summerland) control the sale of power to its residential and commercial customers, Ciarniello said.

“Because the six municipal utilities have existed for many decades they have made ongoing capital investments in the multi-millions of dollars,” Ciarniello said. “The return they now receive on operation of the electric utility reflects the many years of municipal investment.”

Ciarniello said if Campbell River had been incorporated before it actually was, in 1947, it’s possible the city could be selling its own power today.