BC Government wants to skip the reviews of two Hydro projects

A photo of early construction at the Site C project.

The provincial government wants to bypass reviews to fast-track two major projects related to LNG, according to the Globe and Mail.

The energy ministry launched a consultation with stakeholders about allowing the two power lines (the North Montney Power Supply and the Peace Region Electricity Supply) to go ahead without obtaining a “certificate of public convenience and necessity” from the BC Utilities Commission.

This comes after the BC Liberal government made a commitment last spring to restore the powers of BC Hydro’s watchdog, the BCUC, who regulates natural gas and electricity utilities.

The BC government has allowed BC Hydro to avoid regulatory reviews of a few major projects by the BCUC, including Site C, the Smart Meters program and the Northwest Transmission Line.

Altogether, those projects are worth more than $10 billion.

The Crown corporation says it needs to move quickly to respond to what it calls “some of the most dramatic, single industry load growth in a discrete area that it has experienced over the past 50 years.”

Critics, like Adrian Dix, say the projects should not proceed without independent scrutiny to determine if the plans are sound.

BC Hydro says the review of the Peace Region project would lead to delays of a year or longer. Spokeswoman Simi Heer said in a statement, “An exemption would provide greater certainty around the timing of the project for our customers and allows us to work toward an earlier in-service date.”

The BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre, who represents low and fixed income residential ratepayers, is opposing the exemption application.

Sarah Khan, a lawyer with BCPIAC, told the Globe and Mail that hydro rates are going up at an unsustainable pace because of BC Hydro projects that have not been examined by the regulator.