THE BC Chamber of Commerce welcomed the B.C. government efforts to minimize impacts to businesses from BC Hydro rate hikes by creating a 10-year plan of predictable increases.

The BC Chamber said it recognizes the significant challenge of B.C.’s aging infrastructure and supports investments in this critical arena.

“With B.C.’s aging infrastructure, we recognize that BC Hydro rate increases can’t be avoided,” said BC Chamber President and CEO John Winter. “The challenge is to minimize negative impacts to businesses and residents – and we feel this plan strives hard to achieve that.”

Winter noted that electricity is a big issue for businesses.

“In some industries, such as pulp and paper and mining, electricity is a major input cost to businesses,” he said. “A significant electricity rate hike could devastate many B.C. businesses.”

Winter commended government for listening to businesses’ concerns about potential rate shocks and producing a plan that creates flatter, more predictable increases.

“The rate increases in this plan will still create challenges for B.C. businesses, but we appreciate that, in the face of a significant infrastructure challenge, the government has worked hard to mitigate impacts on businesses and consumers,” he said.

Winter applauded the B.C. government for playing its part vis-à-vis the infrastructure challenge by reducing the money it receives from BC Hydro through dividends.

“We appreciate that the government is stepping up and forgoing some of its revenue to reduce negative impacts on businesses from rate increases,” Winter said. “That sends a positive message to businesses that they’re not in this alone.”

Winter also welcomed a commitment to introduce a review structure to examine more options for industrial customers to reduce electricity costs, as recommended by the Electricity Policy Review Task Force.

“Moving to options such as time-of-use-models, where companies can access cheaper electricity at non-peak hours, creates opportunities for a more efficient system and valuable cost savings for businesses.”