Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The End of the BC Transmission Corporation

I am very concerned that the government is melding the BC Transmission Corporation back into BC Hydro.   I was happy to see the creation of BCTC because it made sense to seperate transmission from generation and sales to clients.

The grid is like the public highways, it should be available to everyone on the same terms.   It makes sense for the transmission grid to be publicly owned.   There is no need for the public to own the generation sites or to own the company that sells us the power.   In south east BC the public lives with a private company providing them with electrical power.

As much as I was happy to see the creation of BCTC, I was unhappy to see how close a relationship it retained with BC Hydro, they were two companies that really functioned as one.   My hope was for a transmission ultility that was really separate and could be entirely neutral.   All along BC Hydro continued to do most of the work for BCTC.

Neutrality matters because BC Hydro has a vested interest in maintaining their monopoly control over their service area.   For decades the single biggest impediment in BC to green power and innovation in energy was BC Hydro.   BC Hydro had a mega project mentality that dismissed all the innovative small projects various private sector developers came up with.   BC Hydro used their control over the grid to stop competition in power generation.

I wanted to see a BCTC that allowed anyone to use the grid to get their power from point A to point B.   If this really had been done, there would be no need for independent power producers to sign contracts with BC Hydro, they could have sold it Alberta, Washington, Idaho or the Kootenaies.  There would be competition for the green power that is produced.   Instead IPPs have to sell to BC Hydro and have to conform to whatever obstructionist stuff BC Hydro can come up with.

I have yet to hear anyone make the case for why electrical generation and sales to the public should be done by a Crown corporation.   We have many private sector power producers, the world does not come to an end.   The food system is all privately operated and we all manage to eat.   What possible good public policy reason is there for the public to own BC Hydro other than the transmission lines?

Getting rid of BCTC is a mistake, the government should have fixed BCTC and made it properly separate from BC Hydro.   Part of me wonders if things panned as they did because some senior mandarins in BC Hydro want to empire build.


Anonymous said...

Generally you are on the right track.

The reason power generation is crown owned is simple: Public Unions and their friends in the NDP and among the clueless leftards.

The Liberals are afraid to mess with BC Hydro, and have to use kid gloves.

Indeed BC Hydro will continue to empire build. Salaries at BC Hydro average $110,000 a year (includes benefits). BCTC average salaries are $140,000 a year. Union foremen make up to $280,000 a year.

On the other hand, it could be argued that the amalgamation is beneficial because in practice all was controlled and run by BCH. BCTC is a dysfunctional organization.

It would make sense to float BC Hydro in the same way that AC was floated by the federals.

But of course the unions will cry foul.

The amount of graft and wastage in these crown corps is phenomenal. Unfortunately the illicit monies are then recycled into political campaigns.

WCWC and BC Citizens for Public Power receive millions from COPE. While BCCGE is a bunch of volunteers trying to counter their lies.

Anonymous said...

My understanding was that BCTC was formed in reaction to the U.S federal energy agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's mandate that generation be separated from transmission when selling power across state borders. BC sells power to the U.S. market at a profitable price during the day and then purchases less expensive power back during nighttime hours. It is logical that a lucrative relationship ought to be preserved.

Since the U.S. is such a rich market, it was important to provide a meaningful separation - BCTC obviously provided this benefit by being separate from BC Hydro. So, something must have changed in the U.S. which allows that separation to not exist - that is all that one can conclude.