BC Hydro rates have climbed steadily, and many customers, especially seniors on a fixed income, are finding it a struggle to keep up with the rising rates. (file photo)

BC Hydro rates have climbed steadily, and many customers, especially seniors on a fixed income, are finding it a struggle to keep up with the rising rates. (file photo)

Hydro rate hikes irk Youbou senior

Greg Whynacht's bill has increased 40 per cent in the last year despite his consisent consumption.

A retired senior living in a small house in Youbou, Greg Whynacht is growing increasingly frustrated with watching his hydro bill climb despite his consistent usage.

“Do I experience significant day to day activity changes? No. Do I routinely experience an overwhelming number of guests or visitors? No. Do I compulsively wash any dirty clothes or do I wait for the washer to be near a full load before washing them? Full load is generally the case,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I’m frugal but my better half calls me very stingy.”

Even so, in the last year his bill has increased 40 per cent.

“What has changed is the continuing tariffs taxes and hydro charges going up,” he explained.

The former BC Tel/Telus electrician is no stranger to the utilities game and says he knows energy consumption and the industry quite well. Whynacht is floored at how easy it is for BC Hydro to jack up the rates compared to his experiences in years past.

“I worked hard for 37 years. Working for a private company we had to present accurate figures, we had to present accurate books, we had to present good arguments and most of the time we didn’t get the rate increase because the government said it made them look bad,” he said.

“But BC Hydro is nothing more than an extension of the B.C. government. It’s not like a private company going to a government body saying ‘we need more money’. BC Hydro goes to the government and says ‘nudge nudge wink wink we need more money blah blah blah’. And for the most part, because the money stays in the province, it’s not scrutinized like if BC Hydro were a private company.”

He doesn’t want it to be a private company, mind you, “heavens no, but I think they are not held accountable or as responsible as a private company would be,” Whynacht said. “This is all our money that they’re spending. It’s all tax dollars. Just because somebody says ‘we should do this’ doesn’t make it justifiable to do it until there’s concrete proof that is has to be done.”

Whynacht said the province really doesn’t mind hydro rates increasing because it means more tax dollars for government to work with — and it’s likely going to get worse with a new premier at the helm.

“With new governments usually there’s not many old programs terminated but there’s lots of new programs started so all of those starting is going to take a tremendous amount of spending so they’re not going to look at reducing intake,” he said.

Whynacht believes now is the time for the community to rally, to make some noise and be heard because given it’s the only hydro in the province, boycotting is not really an option.

“People have to yell. People have to tell the government enough’s enough. That’s the beauty of a minority government. If the government hears enough voices saying ‘this isn’t fair, these rates are way too high or have risen too quickly’, you might see some rollbacks,” he said. “Some type of spark has to ignite the emotions and get people to focus on hydro as one of the key issues. There’s a litany of issues. There’s a whole bunch of axes to grind and it’s just a matter of which one you choose.”

Lake Cowichan Gazette