June 19, 2014 9:39 pm
Updated: June 20, 2014 12:59 am

Some B.C. industries say high hydro rates could put them out of business


WATCH: Heavy industry in BC is appealing to the provincial government for protection from increasing hydro rates. Rumina Daya reports.

VANCOUVER – Some major B.C. industries and employers are sounding an alarm today over rising hydro rates, which they say could put them out of business.

Many industries, like pulp and paper mills, cement plants and metal mines took root in B.C. partly because of cheap power from hydro dams.

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However, with hydro bills going up nine per cent this year and 28 per cent over five years, some say these industries will find it more difficult to make money in B.C. or even survive.

In a typical pulp mill, for example, electricity accounts for about 30 per cent of operating costs.

“They compete against China, they compete against Brazil, against the U.S., and those competitors may have lower labour costs, they may have lower extraction costs, they may have lower environment costs,” said Richard Stout from the Association of Major Power Customers.

He said the only thing they have had in B.C. is the low electricity rates.

The government says incentives for B.C. businesses are on their way.

Energy and Mines Minister, Bill Bennett, told Global News the province’s Power Smart money is 1.6 billion dollars over 10 years, with the average being 160 million dollars a year.

“We’ve got those incentive programs almost done,” said Bennett. “I hope that we’ll have something in the next month, month-and-a-half. In terms of the rate review that is happening, we will  have some new rates to offer industry in the first part of 2015.

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