The Cariboo Regional District and the City of Williams Lake are voicing opposition towards two BC Hydro proposed changes.
The changes are to increase street lighting rates and terminate its private light system.
BC Hydro is changing it’s street lights in the province to adhere to new federal regulations around removing lights containing Poly-Chlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) by the end of 2025.
They are terminating their private outdoor lighting service as replacing all the lights to meet the new federal regulations would come at a high cost, leading to a substantial rate increase for these customers. There is currently 3,500 residential and commercial customer who receives the private outdoor lighting service, with many of them being ranchers and farmers.
Area D director Steve Forseth raised the issue during a CRD meeting earlier this month, where the board voted in favour of sending a letter to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC).
“When you talk about replacing street lights from the current ones that are in place now to LED, that’s really a maintenance issue. There (BC Hydro) going to see the benefits of the reduced costs for LED light operations and that shouldn’t be born on the back of the users, whether it’s municipalities or street light service areas in the regional district,” he said. “This really should be born by BC Hydro directly and not by its users.”
Forseth feels that the crown corporation should have at least received feedback before announcing the changes.
“Sometimes shoot first, ask questions later mentality which regretfully does happen from time to time,” he said. “This is an example of where BC Hydro could step up their proactive engagement with the local government prior to moving forward with these kinds of initiatives so that they have the feedback of its users before engaging a formal process with the BC Choice Commission.”
During a regular meeting, the Williams Lake city council voted in favour of signing the CRD’s letter advising that the signatories are not in agreement with the local governments absorbing the costs of disposal and depreciation costs of existing street lights.
The City of Quesnel and Districts of Wells and 100 Mile House are also against the proposed changes.