Blog

Ontario Seeks to Improve Financial Transparency and Accountability.

A committee of the Ontario legislature is holding hearings into how the previous Liberal government attempted to ignore the accounting rules to make the government books appear than was the case. What lessons might the B.C. government learn from this review?

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Ontario Review Promises Greater Transparency and Accountability.

Commentary on certain aspects of the Ontario government's plans regarding electricity pricing and auto insurance regulation.

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Rate-Regulated Accounting at B.C. Hydro: A Primer.

The attached paper provides background for two reports on deferral accounts and B.C. Hydro's finances that are expected to be released shortly. The government has promised to fix the finances at our public utilitity, but the details on how this will be accomplished is unclear.

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Senior Officials Review of BC Hydro Rate Options: Will New or Old Thinking Prevail?

This paper explores the options available to the senior official committee appointed to develop recommendations for a new rates plan for B.C. Hydro. Will the committee adopt the new approach of restoring integrity to financial management, or continue with the old practice of abusing the deferral accounts?

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Ontario Government Agrees that Hydro Deferral Accounting Inappropriate. September 21, 2018.

The Ontario government has moved to clean-up certain accounting practices, including the financing of the "Fiar Hydro" deferrals. The accounting adjustment of the electricity deferrals increased 2018/19 expenditures by $2,4 billion.

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Public Inquiry Begins into Newfoundland's Muskrat Falls Project. September 16, 2018.

A public inquiry is now underway designed to examin the approval process for the $12.7 billion hydroelectric dam. As Konrad Yakabuski writes: "Whether it involves provincially-owned hydroelectric behemoths in British Columbia, Manitoba or Quebec, or the Crown-owned nuclear-dominated Ontario Power Generation, politically-driven energy policies across Canada have saddled ratepayers and taxpayers with billions of dollars in extra debt."https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/muskrat-falls-inquiry-wont-save-newfoundlanders-from-a-127-billion-sinkhole/article37052291/https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-inquiry-into-muskrat-falls-megaproject-boondoggle-to-begin-in-2/

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BC Hydro Five-Year Statistics:2012/13 to 2017/18. September 13, 2018.

Occasional Paper 61 reviews certain aspects of BC Hydro's operations and finances for the last five yers.

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Some Implications of Restoring the BCUC's Independence. September 10, 2018.

This commentary paper explores in more detail some of the issues involved in fixing the accounting policies at B.C. Hydro.

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Governement Begins Restoring Financial Integrity: What's Next for B.C. Hydro's Books? August 31, 2018

This paper provides an overview of why the government set aside $950 million for the 2017/18 fiscal year to begin to fix the financial troubles at B.C. Hydro. the restoration of proper accounting standards at the public power utility presents certain financial problems for the government.

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BCUC Approves BC Hydro's $1.2 Billion Dam Purchase

A short commentary on the regulator's 18 July 2018 approval of the purchase of Teck's interest in the Waneta Dam.

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Ontario Government Pressures Hydro One Board and CEO to Resign

Expensive electricity was a major issue in the recent Ontario election. The new government succeeded in forcing the board and CEO Mayo Schmidt to resign, but lower prices have only been possible by transferring cost to taxpayers and future generations; https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-entire-ontario-hydro-one-board-to-resign-ceo-to-step-down/ and https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-doug-ford-kneecaps-hydro-one/ and https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/doug-ford-hydro-one-1.4743097 and https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-doug-ford-used-legislative-threat-to-oust-hydro-one-ceo-board/

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Hon. Mungall Says BC Hydro's Finances in Good Shape--Really?

A comment on minister Mungall's statement and the staff review of BC Hydro's costs.

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Commentary: Populist Promises and the Cost of Electrictiy. May 18, 2018

The three main politic parties in Ontario are promising to reduce electricity prices, but are being vague as to what this will cost. It's time for the voters to become educated consumers. 

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Public Pension Plan Solvency: Why Is BC Hydro an Outlier?

A comment in response to Vaughn Palmer's article about the BC Investment Management Corporation and the well-funded public pension plans.

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Commentary on Matthew McClearn Article on Hydro Accounting in Ontario. April 22, 2018.

McClearn's article in the Globe and Mail provides a useful summary of many of the issues involved in the accounting dispute between the ontario auditor general and the government. Similar issues exist in British Columbia.

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Inappropriate Regulatory Accounting: Ontario and BC Discussion of Auditors' Opposition. March 30, 2018

This 'Commentary' paper reviews the Ontario and BC public accounts committee discussion of the oppositin by the two auditors general of the application of reguatory accounting, and the impact to the governments' financial statements.

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Politics, Not Economics, Drives Electricity Pricies in Ontario and BC. January 20, 2018

Brady Yauch of the Consumer Policy Institute discribes how electricity pricing in Ontario is now determined by politics rather than economics. BC Hydro rates have been set by political decisions since 2012 when the governemt ordered the regulator to approve lower than required rates. https://cpi.probeinternational.org/2017/11/09/its-the-end-of-energy-regulation-in-ontario-as-we-know-it/

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Auditor General Carol Bellringer Moves to Clean Up BC Hydro's Books. January 10, 2018.

BC Auditor General Carol Bellringer is preparing to become BC Hydro's external auditor, which will put more pressure on the government to allow BC Hydro to conform to national public sector accounting standards. See Les Leyne http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/columnists/les-leyne-watching-b-c-hydro-is-a-growth-industry-1.23137605 and Vaughn Palmer http://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/vaughn-palmer-bellringer-anxious-to-plug-into-b-c-hydros-accounts

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Have the NDP Succumbed to the Siren's Call of Deferral Accounting? November 27, 2017.

The current government's plan to freeze BC Hydro rates is the latest example of how governments have succumbed to the alure of short-term gain by manipulating BC Hydro's finances. Occasional Paper No. 46 traces the key events since 2011. 

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Submission to the BCUC Opposing the BC Hydro Rate Freeze. November 20, 2017

Can the BCUC approve BC Hydro's request to withdraw the 3% rate increase for 1 April 2018? I argue that it should not approve the request; includes final submission of 11 January 2018. 

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Further Observations on the Hydro Rate Freeze. November 12, 2017.

As a follow-up to Occasional Paper No. 45, this paper looks more deeply at the question of affordability in the pricing of BC Hydro's electricity.

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Government Freezes BC Hydro Rates for 2018. November 9, 2017.

This paper discusses some aspects of the new plan to freeze BC Hydro rates for 2018.

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BC Auditor General Finds BC Hydro's 'Prescribed' Accounting Unacceptable. October 26, 2017.

The Auditor General has added a new reason to qualify her opinion of the government's 2016/17 financial statements; the fact that the 'prescribed' accounting standards do not conform to the public sector accounting standards. Read more in Occasional Paper No. 44.

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Will NDP End BC Hydro's 'Wild West' Accounting--The Tyee October 24 and 25, 2017.

The Tyee published my piece which describes the Ontario Auditor General's special report on a government scheme to subsidize electricity rates, and how electricity rates are subsidized in British Columbia; https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2017/10/24/Will-NDPEnd-BC-Hydro-Wild-West-Accounting/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=241017 also Andrew MacLeod's comments from Carole James https://thetyee.ca/News/2017/10/25/Fixing-BC-Hydro-Accounting/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=251017

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What Would Ontario's Auditor General Make Of BC Hydro's 'Prescribed' Accounting Standard? October 22, 2017.

In a special report the Ontario Auditor General severely criticised that government's new regulatory deferal scheme; what would she make of the accounting practiced at BC Hydro to surpress the true cost of electricity?

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Email to Auditor General Bellringer re BC Hydro Accounting, December 2, 2016.

This email informs Auditor General Bellringer of recent developments respecting BC Hydro's accounting for future unbilled and uncollected revenue.

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Ontario Auditor General Says Deferring Hydro Rate Subsidy Contrary to Accounting Principles. October 18. 2017.

The use of deferral accounting allows debt to be transformed into and asset, a practice that the BC Lberal government abused with respect to BC Hydro's books. There are there lessons for the new NDP government in the Ontario Auditor General's recent report; http://www.auditor.on.ca/en/content/specialreports/specialreports/FairHydroPlan_en.pdf See media reaction; http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/reevely-hiding-billions-in-hydro-debt-unacceptable-ontarios-auditor-general-says and http://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/auditor-general-set-to-report-on-ontarios-25-per-cent-hydro-bill-cuts.

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Impact of Massive Hydroelectric Infrastructure Projects on Rates. July 5, 2017.

Occasional paper No. 34 reviews the likely impact of three major hydroelectric infrastructure projects on electricity rates.

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Options for Financing Site C. June 24, 2017

What impact will the Site C project, whether it proceeds or is cancelled, have on BC Hydro's operating budget, and what are the options to pay for it? Occasional Paper No. 33 provides a high-level look at these questions.

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Final Submission on BC Hydro's F17 to F19 Rate Request. June 8, 2017.

Given the pending change in government, I recommended that the BC Utilities Commission not approve any of the discreationary items in BC Hydro's F17 to F19 rate request.

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Manitoba Hydro Planning a Five-Year 46% Rate Increase -- Lessons for BC? June 2, 2017.

In May, Manitoba Hydro requested a rate increase of 7.9% for 2017 and 2018, with an indication of the same increase for the following three years. The publicly owned power utility is facing a major deterioration inits finances due to major capital projects and a flat demand. What lessons may a new government in BC learn from the Manitoba experience?

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Ontario Electricity Rate Suppression Plan. May 27, 2017.

This paper reviews the recent report of the Ontario Financial Accountability Office on that government's plan to use a deferral account to surpress electricity rates. A comparison to the revenue deferral practiced by BC Hydro is also provided.

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Fact Check - Bill Bennett Responds to My Tyee Article. May 4, 2017.

A Fact Check on Hon. Bill Bennett's comments on the Jon McComd (CKNW) show, commenting on rate increases and BC Hydro's debt.

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New Study Recommends Suspension of Site C. April 19, 2017.

On April 19, 2017, the UBC Program on Water Governance released a comphrensive report on the economics of the Site C dam project;http://watergovernance.ca/projects/sitec/

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Cold and Snowy Winter Helps BC Hydro - Hammers ICBC. March 19, 2017.

A review of the financial impacts of the cold and snowy winter on the finances of BC Hydro and ICBC.

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BC Hydro's Aggressive Revenue Tactics. March 15, 2017.

Big banks have been pursuing questionable tactics to enhance revenue and profits, but BC Hydro has a unique way to achieve its revenue targets.

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How Realistic is BC Hydro's 10-Year Plan? March 12, 2017.

This paper suggests that BC Hydro's annual target rate increase of 2.6% is optimistic, as is the 10-year financial plan.

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How BC Hydro Produces Record profits Despite Flat Demand. March 2, 2017.

This paper explores BC Hydro's flat domestic sales and its high profits during the last five years, and suggests that the recording of future ubapproved and unbilled revenue helps explain the healthy bottom line.

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Government Creates Unique Accounting System for BC Hydro. January 30, 2017.

This paper describes how an obscure 2011 cabinet directive allows BC Hydro to apply regulatory accounting without the fundamental componet -- an independent regulator.

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BC Hydro's Growing Pension Liability. January 14, 2017.

Richard McCandless wonders why BC Hydro has a large and growing pension liability; deferral accounting may provide a reason.

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Under-Reported BC Hydro Financial Stories from 2016. January 9, 2017.

Richard McCandless posts Occasional Paper No. 19 on some 2016 stories about BC Hydro's finances that were either under-reported, or recieved no media coverage.

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BC Hydro Quietly Posts Disappointing Q2 Results

My summary of BC Hydro's 2016 Q2 rseults, and a forecast to year-end.

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BC Hydro Defends Recording of Future Unapproved Revenue. 2 December 2016.

Recently, the BC Utilities Commission asked BC Hydro whether its recording of future unapproved revenue conformed to accepted accounting principles. I forwarded BC Hydro's answer, together with my comments, to Auditor General Carol Bellringer.

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BC Hydro GWh Domestic Sales. 29 November 2016.

BC Hydro data on domestic sales 2006/07 to 2015/16 and three year forecast.

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Revenue Recognition -- Fraud and Reporting Risk.

An article by D. Barry Jay Epstein reviewing revenue recognition fraud in the US.

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Does BC Hydro's Rate Smoothing Conform to Accounting Standards? 8 June 2016.

On 8 June 2016 Adrian Dix MLA requested Auditor General Carol Bellringer's opinion as to whether the government-imposed recording of future revenue at BC Hyro conforms to generally accepted accounting principles. 

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The Cost of Surplus IPP Power 6 October 2016

An attempt to estimate the net cost to BC Hydro by purchasing power from independant power producers. 6 October 2016.

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Is BC Hydro Acting More Like a Commercial Power Utility? 15 August 2016

Comparing BC Hydro's finances with other power utilities. 15 August 2016.

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How Much Do Electricity Consumers Owe BC Hydro? 29 July 2016

Deferral accounting assumes that cost over-runs are loans to customers; how much do we owe BC Hydro? 29 July 2016. 

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