Taking issue with energy

There are many regulatory issues concerning the costs of energy and many other non optional services in B.C.

Filed for publication with the Mirror

Dear Editor, I am forwarding a copy of a letter sent to the government, if and when a response is made I will forwarding that text to your good office.

Dear Representatives;

There are many regulatory issues concerning the costs of energy and many other non optional services in B.C. With this in mind I like to take issue with a few of them and request independent responses from both of your offices. Requests in the past have always led to redirects or finger pointing. I hope that format can be avoiding in this request.

First of all the prices being charged at retail outlets in B.C. for gasoline are not logical when viewed in the marketing perspective. Today the lowest price for regular gasoline in B.C. is $1.30.9 a litre and that is usually at Costco in several different regions. The rest of B.C.’s retailers are charging amounts above the $1.39.9 mark. Gasoline is selling for $1.10.9 cents in Edmonton and reflects a more reasonable charge rate when you exclude the metro Vancouver region which is subject to a whole waft of addition transit taxes. Case in point, Grande Prairie Alberta is 80 miles from Dawson Creek with gas prices posted at $1.15 and $1.40 respectively. To show proof of price fixing the government must order wire taps to flesh out collusion.

This was done in Ontario and several companies were found to be conspiring to price fix and were heavily fined. The government seems to have little interest in lowering fuel costs as the more retailers charge the more taxes are collected, talk about the fox guarding the henhouse.

Secondly, BC Hydro’s budgetary shortfall and long term debt is in part created by the government itself.

The government has for some time now been tapping into BC Hydro net revenues to supplement their own monetary needs, this is not what BC Hydro was set up for.

If left to operate at arms length as originally intended BC Hydro would have enough cash to maintain low utility rates, provide maintenance of older facilities, finance its own projects and manage its own debt.

The dispersal of key BC Hydro administrative agencies to private corporations has increased the operating overhead and relegated BC Hydro to a lesser responsibility in providing energy to enhance B.C.’s future.

The government must sever its revenue milking demands on BC Hydro and let that corporation fulfill its mandate as originally intended.

Other encumbrances on BC Hydro are, the privatization process the government seems to be committed to, the obligation of BC Hydro to buy power from IPPs at three times the cost they can produce it for themselves.

All these negative impacts are having horrific impacts on consumers and your attention to  deal with these issues are paramount.

I worked on the preliminary exploration and design of the then proposed Site C project in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, that your government is now entertaining once again as a viable project.

Our final design, socio-economic report, and environmental assessment reports were all completed back in the early 1980s with construction proposed to start in 1984. The cost then was a whopping $1 billion dollars.

Continuous government meddling deferred and delayed this project to the point at which the costs have now escalated to $10 billion dollars.

I know the public release says $8 billion but internal estimates advise costs to be much higher.

All this meddling by government and regulatory agencies has caused cost escalation and an allusion of cash shortfalls for which the finger points at BC Hydro because they have to raise utility rates and they aren’t allowed to manage the business of energy provider without outside monetary and regulatory demands.

Utility rates should never become a tax by another name and that conflict introduces a cavalcade of unwanted and unneeded complications orchestrated by the governments greedy appetite for revenue.

In conclusion, the cost of transporting fuel from Edmonton in no way amounts to 30 cents per litre as the comparative differential in fuel pricing indicates, therefore the retail price of fuel in B.C. is either being fixed or has to many taxers lined up at the price gate.

BC Hydro has to be given autonomy to do its business free from monetary stripping by governments and regulatory agencies.

The vision of a public power provider in B.C. was created because the private power company of the day refused to supply ample volumes of power so as to encourage industrial growth.

The government of the day saw the writing on the wall and created the crown corporation that served us so well through the latter part of the previous century.

A return to that mandate and the supervision of fuel prices is way beyond necessary and your intervention and withdrawal from the revenue stream is in dire need.

Ray Fortier

Campbell River

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