Liberals’ mismanagement of Hydro has hammered industrial employers, New Democrats say

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SURREY – A new subsidy for B.C.’s pulp mills is an admission that the B.C. Liberals’ mismanagement of BC Hydro is risking jobs and hammering the province’s resource-based industrial employers, say the New Democrats.

New Democrat spokesperson responsible for BC Hydro, Adrian Dix, says the $100 million the Liberals have earmarked for this program does nothing to help small business or residential customers who are also being hurt by the 28-per-cent hikes on their Hydro rates.

“Inept Liberal policies put the entire pulp sector in jeopardy, so some action on Hydro rates is welcome news,” said Dix. “But the Liberals have been to blame from the beginning.

“After promising voters that they would keep Hydro rates low, the Liberals surprised ratepayers with a massive 28 per cent hike over five years as soon as the election was over,” said Dix. “Now, they’re claiming to ride to the rescue, hoping no one will notice it was their own incompetence that put these companies at risk in the first place.

“The Liberals’ mismanagement of Hydro – from their privatizing of power generation with high price long-term contracts to their use of deferral accounts which racked up enormous debt – has led to consumers facing enormous rate hikes over the next five years, and likely more to come.”

Dix said the industrial users need the relief offered in today’s announcement, but the problems caused by this government to the pulp sector go well beyond the rate hikes.

“New Democrats have been engaged with Catalyst, with Harmac, with Canfor and others on the problems facing their industry for years,” said Dix. “Stable access to fiber remains a long-term problem, and that’s something the government can take action on, but won’t.”

Meanwhile, Dix said, a lot of businesses and residential customers can’t afford to pay for Liberal incompetence, and they have no relief in sight for Hydro rates that will stretch out over the next decade.

“The government’s 10-year plan for rate hikes only includes five years of detail,” said Dix. “We know that rates are going to jump by 28 per cent in the next five years. With five more years of Liberal mismanagement, who knows how much higher those rates will go?”