BC Hydro announces $100 million power fund for pulp mills

WATCH: A special Hydro fund for pulp mills is proving contentious with some. Keith Baldrey reports.

The provincial government and BC Hydro announced today a new “Power Smart” program that will give financial incentives to pulp mills who undertake energy conservation projects.

“I’m pleased that we are able to offer a new opportunity for our industrial customers to save electricity and reduce their operating costs,” said BC Hydro President Jessica McDonald today.

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    BC Hydro rates are going up

The move came after several pulp mills said they could not afford the 28 per cent rate hike all customers face over the next five years.

READ MORE: Some B.C. industries say high hydro rates could put them out of business

Under the plan, $100 million will be available to pulp mills over three years. The money – up to $25 million per project – is only available to pulp mills if they cover at least 25 per cent of any project that will reduce their power consumption.

Adrian Dix, the NDP Hydro critic, said the move was evidence of the government’s mishandling of BC Hydro over the years.

“What happened today was necessary because of Liberal failures at BC Hydro and the resulting massive rate increases,” said Dix.

“It’s good that they’re doing what they have to do to avoid killing an industry…there are many, many people in BC that can’t afford these massive increases and the Liberals have forgotten about them.”

But according to the provincial government, the projects will lower electricity consumption by over 300 gigawatts a years, which will save Hydro from having to make future investments.

“BC Hydro will not have to spend $265 million on new generation because these four companies are going to save that much electricity,” said Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines.