BC Hydro: the public utility with zero public accountability
Longtime readers will know well the wisdom and warnings of Erik Anderson, retired former economist who has long been ringing the warning bell of the dire situation of BC Hydro’s financials.
Something is still very wrong at BC Hydro, and this matters because we all have hydro accounts. And we will all bear the brunt of Hydro’s past mismanagement that continues despite Michelle Mungall’s use of former BC Hydro cheerleader Bill Bennett’s pom-poms to boost Chris O’Riley at every chance she gets…( I swear, it’s as if they all forgot everything they ever hammered the Libs for on BC hydro)
I digress as can happen on a hot summer night but let’s move on.
Before good old Kootenay Bill left, he signed off on a change to how BC Hydro gives annual reports which typically give a full financial account of the affairs of the corporation.
This presents an issue for those looking forward to ‘Annual Reports’ because it’s now a “Service Plan Annual Report”.
( I would be remiss in failing to mention that the most recent report was opened by Brad Bennett who, in addition to being appointed chair of BC Hydro by Clark in 2015…also acted as her…ahem..advisor on the campaign trail in the last election!) Nope, no conflict there…
Not surprisingly, Bennett was replaced shortly after the NDP won the last election-that’s where accountability seems to have stopped pending a full review.
Erik believes…as do I…that the people of BC who will ultimately pay for every bit of BC Liberal ( and NDP?) mismanagement at BC hydro deserve better…and he has a concern on the legality of the new reports…and an idea.
He was kind to prepare a post for you and here it is.
July 16, 2018
BC Budget Transparency and Accountability Act
Yes such legislation does exist but maybe only on paper, not in practice. It also features “Annual Report instructions for Crown Corporations” where it goes on to say that “each Crown corporation MUST issue an annual report showing how their business outcomes compare to the goals in their “service plan”.
For undisclosed reasons no ‘annual reports’ by either ICBC or BC Hydro have been issued for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. In two weeks we will know if 2018 will be another.
Speculating about why no annual reports have been issued is just that, speculation, but the usual reason is that the issuer’s financial statements are or will not be conforming to professional and accepted accounting standards. The independent auditor risks losing their license to practice if they were to accept incorrect or misleading financial statements for their signature.
So what do we citizens now have? A series of “Service Plans” where there is no one legally accountable for their content. The absence of annual reports that a Minister, Board of Directors and Senior Managers would and should be legally accountable for is massively unfinished business.
Adding to this uncertainty we now have the BC Auditor General advising on July 9th, 2018 that they will “become BC Hydro’s financial auditor in 2020”. Characterizing this as kick the can down the road action would seem correct and likely means that “Service Plans” will be the standard fare until then and beyond.
Since this wrong state of financial reporting has been around for plus 2 years and no elected person has spoken out against this shabby behavior, it is left to the electorate to demand remediation. Most adult readers know that they would fail to get a bank loan if they went to a bank with a set of income, liability and assets statements that were not official. Yet BC Hydro has been and continues to do this very thing by not having income and balance sheet reports that are legal documents.
What worries me most is that there are those willing to lend regardless of the reporting shortcomings and the apparent illegality of there being none.
What I am asking people to do about this sick condition is to join individually or even better, as groups, and ask the BC Public Interest Advocacy Center, in Vancouver, to seek a court injunction prohibiting all capital expenditures, particularly Site C , by BC Hydro until all missing annual reports are publicly posted and sign by a nationally recognized accountancy firm. The contention is that borrowing and spending by BC Hydro is immoral, unethical and likely illegal.
BC PIAC exists for the very purpose of looking out for the “public’s interest”. Borrowing and spending by BC Hydro seems to fit the purpose PIAC was created. Many of us, including my dear friend Rafe Mair , sought to have the BC Hydro sorry story change but as of yet to no avail. Please lend a hand with this new initiative.
BC PIAC can be found and contacted at this link:
Email: support (at) bcpiac.com
I am happy to be used as a reference. firstname.lastname@example.org
Go now and share and email the org above and ask your friends and neighbours too as well. Hydro is continuing to take a wrong turn when all evidence presented by the NDP themselves over past years indicated a full stop…yet they do nothing.
They count on the fact most people may not understand this…or why this matters. And that’s wrong.
Over the next few days I will have a few more blog posts coming..not all by me but all are important enough I can’t ignore them. Including another post on the evidence for a corruption inquiry in BC…