Fortis, the company that provides electrical service to approximately 111,500 customers in the south central part of the province, has applied to the BC Utilities Commission for a rate increase of 3.3 per cent for 2014 and has laid the groundwork to revisit the rate through 2018.
“The way it works for the commission is we re-visit our rates every year, so we only requested for 2014 the 3.3 percent but we’re filing the [five-year] application to kind of have the parameters in place,” said Neal Pobran, manager of corporate communications who was reached by telephone. “We’ll go back again through another regulatory process for the following years after that.”
Pobran said the public is welcome to view the application and make comments online. It will be available shortly at www.bcuc.com. It will also be on the FortisBC website at www.fortisbc.com.
While BC Hydro has been the subject of intense political debate over its fee structure, FortisBC operates on a smaller playing field and with far fewer customers. Still, according to a corporate report, FortisBC’s electric operations had a net income of $49 million in 2012.
The utility is also in the planning stages of a new $16 million operations centre in Ootischenia.
“We’re trying to go to the five year plan so that if we do have any savings, they are passed onto customers,” said Pobran. “Every utility is struggling with this — when you think how much electricity use has increased and the aging of the infrastructure, It’s what everyone is facing right now. People used to have one television and now what… four is pretty common? Different times.”
John Walker, President and CEO of FortisBC commented in a press release that cost and reliability are customers main concerns.
“In this application, we’re trying to balance our customers’ need to minimize rate increases, while addressing rising power costs and paying for the necessary investment to the electrical system,” said Walker.
The FortisBC release also noted a review of the residential conservation rate is underway and they will be filing a report with the results with the commission. The report will include public input and study the impact of a conservation rate on customers.
“While most customers benefit from the residential conservation rate, we are sensitive that some pay more. This report will provide a better understanding of the issues and impacts of the rate,” said Walker. “We continue to work with our customers to find ways to make their homes and businesses more energy efficient by offering rebates and through programs like community energy diets, including one currently underway in the Kootenays and one planned for the South Okanagan this fall.”
For more information and to learn ways to reduce energy use, visit www.fortisbc.com/electricityrates.
To discuss your bill with FortisBC, including ways to potentially save energy, call 1-866-436-7847.