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BC NDP trying to tackle rising rates at BC Hydro

The B.C. government has launched a review into BC Hydro. File

The B.C. government is launching a two-phase review in an attempt to reign in rate increases at BC Hydro. The province announced the review on Monday. The first phase will consist of the government working with Hydro to “identify cost savings, efficiencies, new revenue streams and other changes” by the fall.

The review comes after the government was denied a request to the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) to freeze Hydro rates for one year. The request was denied by the BCUC because the independent body found there was “insufficient regulatory justification” to keep the rates frozen.

Rates went up three per cent on April 1, 2018 and comes on the heels of approved rate hikes of four per cent from 2016 and 3.5 per cent in 2017.

READ MORE: BC Hydro rates are going up despite NDP promise to freeze them

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The new Hydro review will be done in time for the rates to be set in February 2019.

“Government expects recommendations from the first phase of the review this summer to inform a refreshed rates plan, and assist BC Hydro in preparing its next rates application,” reads a statement from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. “A report on the first phase of the review, and government’s response, will be released in the fall of 2018.”

WATCH HERE: Utilities commission rejects BC Hydro request for no rate increase

Click to play video: 'Utilities commission rejects BC Hydro request for no rate increase' Utilities commission rejects BC Hydro request for no rate increase
Utilities commission rejects BC Hydro request for no rate increase – Mar 1, 2018

According to government figures, hydro rates have gone up by 25 per cent since 2013, and by more than 70 per cent since 2001. BC Hydro does have a Customer Crisis Fund pilot program set-up for residential customers that can’t afford their bill because of “loss of employment or benefit income, unanticipated medical expenses or pending eviction.” The three-year pilot will run until 2021.

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READ MORE: John Horgan: BC Hydro rate freeze might not be best way to make life more affordable

The second phase of the provincial review will kick off in late 2018. The province is setting up an expert panel “to provide recommendations to ensure BC Hydro is well positioned to maximize opportunities flowing from shifts taking place in the global and regional energy sectors, technological change and climate action.”

WATCH HERE: BC Hydro considers cancelling solar power incentive

Click to play video: 'BC Hydro considers cancelling solar power incentive' BC Hydro considers cancelling solar power incentive
BC Hydro considers cancelling solar power incentive – May 3, 2018

The review will produce recommendations that will be handed over to government in the summer or fall of 2019. The government will decide who will make up the expert panel once the first phase review is done.

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