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BC Hydro rates will climb by 8 per cent on May 1, an interim rate hike approved Thursday by the BC Utilities Commission.

The Crown corporation has sought rate hikes of 50 per cent over the next five years, but the provincial government is conducting a review of BC Hydro's operations to find options that would reduce the proposed increases. B.C.'s auditor general is probing the utility's books as well.

The BCUC last month approved an interim hike of 9.73 per cent but the increase was stalled after Premier Christy Clark raised concerns about the rising cost of hydroelectricity. Ms. Clark flagged the rate hikes during her bid for the BC Liberal leadership as an unacceptable burden on families.

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In the ruling Thursday, the BCUC says Ms. Clark's review "will inform BC Hydro's final revenue requirements application." If the rates that are eventually approved are lower, the May 1 rate hike will be refundable to customers.

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