Skip to main content
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

To date, BC Hydro has spent $492-million and the project is far from complete.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

BC Hydro rejected a plan to update its information technology systems in 2008, concluding the new SAP software program would take too many resources and provide too little savings. In 2010, the Crown corporation went ahead with the switch anyway.

Today, the 2008 prophecy is fulfilled: Incomplete and overbudget, the transfer is behind schedule and the promised savings have not materialized.

"There were judgments made that cost money. They were mistakes," Energy Minister Bill Bennett, who is responsible for BC Hydro, said in an interview Wednesday.

Story continues below advertisement

"I apologize to the ratepayer for mistakes that were made in the past."

Adrian Dix, the NDP critic for BC Hydro, said the Crown corporation's initial assessment of the SAP migration proposal was correct.

"BC Hydro originally rejected this as a terrible idea.

"Then they implemented this terrible idea anyway, for reasons that are unexplained," he said Wednesday. "It is simply a fiasco."

A 2008 document prepared for Hydro's regulator proposed a $7-million upgrade to the corporation's financial software.

The alternative, the document explained, was to spend $40-million on SAP software, but that "would require a significant dedication of management and staff resources, thereby delaying other important BC Hydro projects."

It also said the licensing costs for the SAP software would outweigh any operational savings. "Overall, this option is not considered appropriate for BC Hydro."

Story continues below advertisement

By the time BC Hydro went back to the B.C. Utilities Commission for another rate review in 2010, the SAP transition was already well under way – it was too late to start a regulatory review to determine if the plan was a good one.

In addition to the financial software upgrade, BC Hydro had broadened the scope of the project to encompass five other IT systems, calling it the "One Hydro" system.

Mr. Dix said the ambitious project was shaped to avoid a regulatory review, both with the timing and the way the contracts were parcelled out in small bundles. Contracts over $20-million require a review.

In the planning documents tabled in 2010, BC Hydro said its five-year information technology and telecommunications plan would transform the system "to become simpler, more integrated, modernized and lower cost." BC Hydro also promised "strict controls and governance" that would reduce IT operating costs by 30 per cent. It expected to spend $400-million over the five years.

To date, Hydro has spent $492-million and the project is far from complete.

"I think it's fair to say this is a public scandal," Mr. Dix said. "It was supposed to be finished in 2014. It's been a huge cost to ratepayers and it's not finished, and it is not meeting its performance targets. … This plan is off the rails."

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Bennett, who has fielded questions from Mr. Dix on the IT project over the past two weeks, met with Hydro's new CEO, Jessica McDonald, in his Victoria office on Wednesday to get an update on the project. He said he is confident she will get the project back on track.

"She's dealing with the issues and I don't know what else we can do but own up to the fact that there were problems and she's on top of it now and trying to fix it," Mr. Bennett said, adding that she has fired the head of the IT department and is searching for a replacement.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies