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A BC Hydro crew in the Beach Grove neighbourhood of Tsawwassen, B.C., Sunday, February 5, 2006.

Richard Lam/ The Canadian Press/Richard Lam/ The Canadian Press

Energy minister Rich Coleman will sit down Tuesday with the president of BC Hydro to hammer out a timeline for $800-million in spending cuts at the Crown corporation that will spell major job losses.

"We're going to walk through the recommendations and set out expectations – I don't want this to sit on the shelf and collect dust," Mr. Coleman said in an interview Monday.

The cuts are recommended in a review, commissioned by Mr. Coleman and made public last week, that aims to rein in proposed electricity rate hikes.

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BC Hydro's president, Dave Cobb, has agreed with the government's demand that Hydro cut its requested rate hikes in half – to 16 per cent from 32 per cent over three years.

But Mr. Cobb is resisting the formula laid out by the panel for cuts. The panel of three senior bureaucrats concluded that the Crown, with the equivalent of 6,000 full-time positions, needs to trim its payroll dramatically.

"The panel believes that a more reasonable staffing level would be in the order of 4,800 employees," the report states. Mr. Cobb countered that the costs could be contained while maintaining a staff of 5,600.

The unions representing Hydro workers have also lashed out. On Monday, David Black, president of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union Local 378, called the panel's report "deeply flawed" and called for the government to go back to the drawing board.

But Mr. Coleman stood by the panel's recommendation. "I think the report was pretty clear that it should be 4,800 people – I think we have to work to that."

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