March 10, 2011

VANCOUVER – With a pending 50 per cent increase to B.C. Hydro rates, New Democrat interim leader Dawn Black and energy critic Doug Donaldson today called on Premier-designate Christy Clark to take steps to protect families from skyrocketing B.C. Hydro bills.

Black said Ms. Clark should start by suspending B.C. Hydro’s $1-billion Smart Metering Program and bringing billions in planned capital spending by B.C. Hydro back under the purview of the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC).

“The B.C. Liberals are ignoring the public interest, spending billions of dollars on projects like the Smart Metering Program with no accountability,” said Black. “That’s led to the prospect of massive and unaffordable hydro rate increases for average families and small businesses.

“Premier-designate Clark needs to take action now to protect families and the economy.”

Black said recent media reports detailing concerns about the awarding of a Smart Metering contract to a company with B.C. Liberal ties underscore the need for the program to be suspended and thoroughly reviewed.

Black and Donaldson proposed the following two concrete steps Ms. Clark can take now to start reversing the trend on hydro rate hikes and B.C. Hydro privatization:

· Halt the $1-billion Smart Metering Program and order an immediate review of how it was put in place

· Bring all of B.C. Hydro’s major capital investments under the purview of the BCUC

“Under the B.C. Liberals, B.C. Hydro has lost its citizen-focused mandate, which must be central to a crown corporation,” said Donaldson. “As a result, customers of B.C. Hydro are forced to pay the biggest price.

“If Premier-designate Clark is honest about her promise to help families, as a first step, she should shelve the Smart Metering Program. And she should act to restore accountability to B.C. Hydro.”

B.C.’s New Democrats are committed to restoring the role of the BCUC and implementing an energy plan that puts British Columbian’ interests first and focuses on conservation and environmental protection.