A local advocate pushing for fair rural electricity rates is encouraging homeowners and others affected by a provincial two-tier energy rate system to voice their complaint.
“It will only take a couple of minutes,” writes Anarchist Mountain’s Nick Marty in an email.
He wants as many residents as possible to provide Fortis with consultation feedback at fortisbc.com/electricityratede
“Fortis is expected to file, in November, it’s first rate application since the implementation of the two-tier rate system,” Mr. Marty explains. “Fortis consulted customers during the summer but only in a few locations. Moreover, in those sessions they concealed important information about the deficiencies and negative impacts of two-tier rates.”
His fear is that Fortis will be reporting on what “they heard” from customers to the British Columbia Utilities Commission and not providing an accurate reflection of customer frustration with the two-tier system.
“It is therefore important that as many residents as possible provide Fortis with feedback,” he said.
“Under Feedback all you need to write is: Two-tier rates are not encouraging efficient behaviour and are discriminating against customers using electricity for space and water heating. The best option is a return to a flat rate.
Mr. Marty said the Anarchist Mountain Community Society will be intervening in the upcoming rate application and, as part of that intervention, he will be presenting a case for returning to a flat rate.
“Your feedback to Fortis would be of great assistance,” he concludes.
According to fortisbc.com, “The residential conservation rate is a two block rate structure designed by the BCUC and FortisBC that encourages you to save energy. Essentially, it provides financial incentives if you use less electricity.
As of January 1, 2017, the first 1,600 kWh you use bimonthly are charged at a lower rate of 10.117 cents – a lower rate than the previous flat rate. Your electricity use above this amount is then billed at a higher rate of 15.617 cents.”
Many users, however — especially those in rural areas — cannot reduce electrical consumption as their households do not have access to natural gas and they must rely on increased electrical use to heat their homes.
Last January, the BC Utilities Commission approved BC Hydro’s plan to scrap a tiered system for commercial customers but keep a two-tiered rate design for residential customers.