Letter: Electricity rates have almost tripled under Fortis

Since Fortis took ownership, costs immediately began to rise from around .04 cents per Kw/h to the current .11769 cents.

To the editor:

Re: Electricity rates.

I have noted in recent issues of the Capital News an increasing number of letters complaining with dismay over the high cost of electricity as provided by Fortis via their two-tier billing system.

I have lived in this fair city for 27 years and built my current home in 1989. At that time I was encouraged by the local supplier, then West Kootenay Power to install a heat pump system with electric backup heating as the most economical use of electricity. I have upgraded the system over the years. I was satisfied with the system in providing clean, dust-free heating at a reasonable price.

When West Kootenay was sold and subsequently passed through several owners ending with Fortis, costs immediately began to rise from around .04 cents per Kw/h to the current .11769 cents. Fortis has consistently, year by year, applied for rate increases amounting to almost tripling the rates.

It would appear that the British Columbia Utilities Commission hasn’t seen a rate increase it didn’t like.

Fortis begins charging the new rate (temporarily of course) before it is formally approved. These power companies encouraged and supported consumers to use systems that are now prohibitive to operate. I can afford their rates but I am sure there are many, particularly pensioners, who can’t.

I recall recently of a single, pensioner lady living in a mobile home park receiving a bill of over $1,100 for two months. I know from my own neighbours that bills ranged from $750 to $1,145. These companies encouraged the use of electricity during the times when it was their only source of revenue but now that they are in gas distribution as well they have abandoned or are forcing the very people they encouraged to switch through higher rates many people can’t afford.

There could be some form of rate relief for those homes using electric heating. I can recall some years ago Manitoba Hydro had separate rates for home heating.

Finally if, as some of your readers say, the BC Hydro rates are 24 per cent lower than Fortis, then the BCUC should be taking some positive action to equalize the costs to consumers rather rubber stamping rate increases for Fortis.

I would encourage your readers who are caught in this dilemma to not only write to the Cap News but also to Fortis and the BC Utilities Commission.

Edward Gaillard,

Kelowna