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BC Hydro rates to jump 25.5 per cent over next five years

VICTORIA (NEWS1130) – Get ready to pay more for your electricity in each of the next five years.

Rates are going up by more than 25 per cent during that time.

Come April 1, 2014, your bill will go up by nine per cent ($8 a month for the average homeowner), followed by another six per cent hike in 2015.

The government is then looking at increases totalling 10.5 per cent in the three years after that.

Energy Minister Bill Bennett calls it a balanced and responsible plan for BC Hydro. “It keeps electricity rates as low as possible while BC Hydro makes investments in aging infrastructure and new power projects, and it supports our growing population and our expanding economy.”

Bennett notes rates could go up even more in the five years after that, although the BC Utilities Commission will have final say. He is encouraging you to turn to Power Smart to reduce your bill.

“Getting the energy audit done, making some changes at home, using less electricity. Ratepayers have opportunities to use less electricity.”

Bennett argues the government has worked to bring the total rate increase down to 25.5 per cent from earlier, higher estimates.

He also says the government will take $2 billion less from BC Hydro over its 10-year plan, and the Crown corporation continues to reduce its costs. Jim Quail with COPE Local 378, which represents about 1,900 hydro workers, says that should have happened years ago.

“It’s something we and other groups had called for to reduce or eliminate the dividend until things are stabilized again. That’s some good news; that’ll give some relief.”

However, he adds, “that may mean that people are going to pay a little more in their taxes.”

“But really, the question comes down to this: What’s the higher priority for the government — balancing their own budget in time for the next election or households being able to balance their budgets?”

Quail says the need for the hike was driven by years of political interference.

Many people we spoke with in Vancouver say the rate hikes will impact their day to day lives.

“I guess I’m going to have to turn my lights off and watch less TV,” says one woman.

“Probably, we’ll use the wood stove a little bit more often,” says another.

“We’re careful anyway, but I don’t think we can conserve much more,” confesses another passerby.