Get ready to pay almost four per cent more on your hydropower bill next month.
Wednesday morning FortisBC announced the company had received a decision from the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) on interim 2023 electric rates.
That means electric rates are set to change as of Jan. 1, 2023 with an interim approval for a 3.98 per cent general rate increase for FortisBC electric customers.
For a residential electric customer with an average use of approximately 1,100 kilowatt hours per month of electricity, FortisBC said this equates to about $7.62 more per month.
Changes to individual bills will vary based on use.
“With a growing market demand for power, we are forecasting an increased cost to purchase power in the upcoming year to serve our growing customer demand,” FortisBC’s Joe Mazza said in a Dec. 7 statement. “We are also continuing to invest in our system to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of energy to our customers and to meet their growing demand.”
As a regulated, privately owned utility, FortisBC applies to the BCUC each year to set electricity rates for the following year. FortisBC says this annual review and approval process ensures electric rates reflect the actual cost of providing safe, reliable service, from generating and purchasing the power through to maintaining and improving the electricity grid that delivers energy to homes and businesses.
“We’re very conscious that any rate increase can be a concern for our customers,” Mazza said. “And we’ve been able to find savings in our operations to offset some of this cost and lower the increase that would have otherwise been needed for 2023.”
The company says these new rates reflect what FortisBC must charge to execute plans for 2023 and maintain the system effectively for customers.
“This includes the ongoing investments the company is making to build new substations and power lines to provide sufficient power in areas with growing energy needs and replace aging equipment at its hydroelectric generating and transmission facilities,” the company states.
“With FortisBC’s hydroelectric infrastructure a key enabler for the province’s CleanBC Roadmap, keeping the system well-maintained and seizing opportunities to improve it is critical as demand grows and the province experiences more extreme weather events.”
These rates are approved on an interim, refundable basis.
A final decision on permanent rates is expected later next year.
As of 2023, all residential use will be billed at a single rate and, for the first time since 2011, FortisBC notes that customers will see only one line item on their bill for all the kilowatt hours they have used for each billing period.
“We have been phasing out two-tiered rates, that is, different rates for different levels of use, since 2019,” the company explains. “FortisBC understands that energy costs are an important consideration in household budgets and offers a number of one-on-one solutions for customers who are experiencing concerns with their bill, including no-cost energy savings programs for customers with qualifying incomes.”