Hydro’s future at stake

A government-appointed panel did a quickie review of BC Hydro’s operations and found them wanting in the finance department.

A government-appointed panel did a quickie review of BC Hydro’s operations and found them wanting in the finance department.

What was our pride and joy is not only over-staffed, staff members are grossly over-paid.

The Fraser Institute says that’s to be expected because government agencies always have more staff, and better paid staff, than the private sector. Columnist Paul Willcocks wondered how the Hydro board and successive energy ministers let this happen.

Good question. How can things go so wrong when the government, (in this case the Campbell government) appointed both the Hydro board members and the responsible ministers. Did Mr. C appoint the wrong people? Or do ordinarily astute business people lose it when they get managing a Crown corporation?  Simon Fraser University professor Marjorie Griffen Cohen, a former Hydro board member, says the Crown corporation is paying too much money for the power it buys from private companies.

Activists Rafe Mair and  Damien Gillis, who have been sounding the alarm for some years, believe the B.C. government is moving to privatize BC Hydro (like BC Ferries and BC Rail). They see run-of-the-river projects in our rivers along with the end of public power.

The panel recommendations may be useful for an election-hungry Premier Christy Clark, but columnist Vaughn Palmer sees them as short-term gain for long-term pain.

For more than five decades, BC Hydro has provided low-cost power to residents, businesses and industry, making this province an attractive place to live and do business. Will that end?

The future of BC Hydro is at stake here. Let’s hope energy minister Rich Coleman and Premier Clark see the future more clearly than their predecessors did.

Parting thought.  The panel recommends eliminating 1,000 jobs from the 6,000 BC Hydro work force. Will those eliminated jobs come from the top or the bottom of the pay scale?

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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