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The BC Hydro Northwest Transmission line is now powered up and operating, delivering under-priced bulk electricity to mining companies and under-priced delivery services for private power generators. 

Not only did they overrun the capital cost of building the line, but BC Hydro goofed in its design of the rate structure to recoup construction cost from the users and left out about $100 million.

The electricity they deliver to the mines will be priced far below its cost. The electricity they deliver from the power producers will be priced far above its value. Hydro customers will pay directly for every deficiency in this set-up.

We tried to warn Hydro and the Utilities Commission about the $100-million error but the government, Hydro and the Commission all took the position that the BCUC had no choice but to approve whatever Hydro came up with, even if it was contrary to law.

Next time you pay your BC Hydro bill, you might want to think about the involuntary donation you are making to Imperial Metals (who brought us the Mount Polley tailings disaster). Part of your payment to BC Hydro will help subsidize their profits for the new Red Chris mine they are building along the new transmission line.

You might also wish to contemplate that Imperial, in turn, makes hefty donations to the governing BC Liberal party who oversee their environmental standards and forced Hydro to build the white-elephant transmission line.

I am quoted briefly in this article from the Vancouver Sun about the line, with a rather pathetic effort by the minister to respond.

Jim Quail is an energy lawyer based in Vancouver. This post first appeared on his blog.

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