BCPIAC opposes Ministry of Energy and Mines seeking regulatory exemption for power projects

BCPIAC replied to a call for comments in response to the Ministry of Energy and Mines proposal to exempt the North Montney Power Supply Project and the Peace Region Electricity Supply Project from undergoing a review by BC’s energy utility regulator.

Julie Chace
Director, Transmission and Inter-jurisdiction
Electricity and Alternative Energy Division

Dear Ms. Chace:

Re: Ministry of Energy and Mines proposal to exempt the North Montney Power Supply Project and the Peace Region Electricity Supply Project from regulatory review by the BC Utilities Commission

I am writing to provide comments in response to the Ministry of Energy and Mines (“MEM”) July 31, 2015 email seeking feedback on the proposal to exempt the North Montney Power Supply (“NMPS”) and the Peace Region Electricity Supply (“PRES”) Projects from regulatory review by the BC Utilities Commission (“BCUC”) under Part 3 of the BC Utilities Commission Act (“UCA”).

We oppose removing the NMPS and PRES Projects from an open and independent review by the BCUC under Part 3 of the UCA.

We regularly represent a group of anti-poverty, seniors’ and tenants’ organizations in regulatory proceedings before the BCUC involving BC Hydro. In those regulatory proceedings, we represent the interests of low and fixed income residential ratepayers. It appears that we were not included in the list of organizations that the MEM consultation request was sent to, but your request was forwarded to us by other stakeholders.

We oppose removing the NMPS and PRES Projects from an open and independent review by the BCUC under Part 3 of the UCA. The purpose of regulation under the UCA is to ensure a review by the BCUC in order to determine whether the projects are ultimately in the public interest. A review by the BCUC will provide a full and transparent assessment by an expert tribunal in which members of the public as well as organizations such as ours and other intervenors experienced in utilities regulation can probe the need, cost, siting, alternative options and other relevant issues relating to the proposed Projects.

The provincial government and MEM have exempted several large projects from BCUC oversight in recent years, including the Site C Clean Energy Project, the Northwest Transmission Line, and smart meters. None of those projects received an open and transparent review by the BCUC, and yet BC Hydro ratepayers will likely be ordered to pay all of the billions of dollars in costs related to these projects.

These costs are being forced onto BC Hydro ratepayers by the province at time when residential rate increases are consistently rising and are becoming unsustainable for low income ratepayers.

We therefore ask that should the proponents wish to proceed with the NMPS and PRES projects, that no regulatory exemption be granted, and that both Projects be required to meet all of the requirements in the UCA prior to approval.

Sincerely,
BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre

Sarah Khan
Staff Lawyer

BCPIAC opposes Ministry of Energy and Mines seeking regulatory exemption for power projects
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