One could easily be forgiven for thinking times are tough at BC Hydro.
After all, the Crown corporation has massive deferral accounts, is about to hit consumers with double-digit rate hikes, and we constantly hear bleating about the need for power self-sufficiency and new infrastructure.
But are Hydro execs tightening their belts and crunching their budgets?
Not on your life.
In fact, they are busy giving themselves huge raises and bonuses. But they're not the only ones living high on the hog.
More than 2,600 Hydro employees took home $100,000 or more last year - a whopping 45 per cent of Hydro's workforce.
This at a time when customers are expected to pay more - a lot more - and the rest of government is either under internal review or facing wage freezes.
Hydro president Charles Reid was paid $531,521 last year - an increase of 7.7 per cent, including a $57,240 performance bonus and $85,450 pension contribution.
One vice-president - there are 18 of them! - bagged a 33 per cent pay hike.
Yet, Energy Minister Bill Bennett defends the indefensible by saying these are the folks who go out in the middle of the night during storms to turn your power back on.
He says if we don't pay them well, they will go elsewhere.
We say let them go.
When a "driver/helper" can pull in $151,000 a year, something has gone completely haywire - either that, or we're in the wrong career.
BC Hydro has more six-figure salaries than any other Crown corporation or ministry, and it's looking for a 26 per cent hike in utility rates over the next three years.
It ought to trim its own fat before going to consumers for more.
- Managing Editor