The new CEO of BC Hydro says the utility won’t have to pay for the $500 million in new Main Street fiber for years to come, but it won’t be until 2019 or 2020 that the utility will begin to pay the $100 million it needs to build the fiber.
“The new CEO said in a recent interview that we would be able to build a Main Street Mainstream Fiber network by 2019 or 2023.
So it will be in 2019 or 2021 or 2021,” said Mike Harris, the newly appointed chief executive of BC Energy.
“We are not going to have to wait until 2019, 2024, or 2026.”
Harris said that the cost of the fiber is being reduced in part by the $1.9 billion in provincial tax credits for Main Street broadband, as well as by the fact that Main Street has been growing at a faster rate than the rest of the country.
“As part of the BC Hydro business model, we are able to make significant investments to support Main Street, including investments in infrastructure, upgrades to Main Street and Main Street infrastructure,” Harris said.
BC Hydro also has begun offering an incentive program that gives companies and individuals in the province the chance to receive a $100,000 grant to help them build new Main St. Mainstream fiber networks.
The program is being rolled out across the province in phases and is expected to be rolled out in 2018.
Harris said the grant program was not created as a way to subsidize Main Street or Main Street businesses, but was a way for the utility to continue to invest in its Main Street footprint.
“What the grant allows is companies to come forward and get a grant to start their Main Street fibre network, and that’s what we’re doing with this,” Harris told the StarPhoenix.
“It’s a good way to encourage the investment in our Main Street network.”
BC Hydro has had a hard time making any money off Main Street in recent years.
The utility reported a net loss of $6.5 million in the three months ended June 30.
The loss came even as BC Hydro reported record revenues of $10.3 billion for the year.
Harris added that the new CEO and board are committed to maintaining the current trajectory for Main St, which is expected continue to grow at a healthy pace.
“Main Street Main Street is not a company that is growing at the pace that we need to grow, so we want to see it grow at that pace,” Harris added.
“But the reality is that the Main Street Business Case, the Main St Business Case is now moving in the right direction, and we’re not going back to the past.”