THE Surrey Board of Trade views the announcement of the increases in BC Hydro’s rates with concern in that the nine and six percent increases in the next two years (and lesser amounts in subsequent years) will be a significant challenge to many businesses in a time when the economy is still not strong.

“The economy is still struggling as are many of our members and increases to electricity rates will be a difficult challenge for many businesses including public institutions,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, on Monday.  “At the same time we recognize that the aging grid and power generation infrastructure across the province must be addressed.”  The question is how much infrastructure is being added and how is the administration of independent power suppliers proceeding.

“The fact that the rate increases are known well in advance may afford businesses time to make the necessary adjustments to meet these increases,” she said. It was noted though that most business that are major consumers of power have already completed their plans and pricing and booked sales for next year. This is a little late for these big firms to have any agility to offset these increases in the short run.

Additionally, such plans as the greater investment ($1.6 million) in the Power Smart program, along with the launch of a rate design review process to examine ways to provide industrial customers with more options to reduce their electricity costs, are welcome.