In a July 19 decision, the BC Utilities Commission agreed that Nelson Hydro may charge a 2.5 per cent increase to its rural customers as of Jan. 1 of this year.
This is the same rate applied to urban customers, but for rural customers the permission of the commission was required.
In a document called a Cost of Service Analysis (COSA), which the city filed with the commission in the fall of 2020, the city asked for a larger rate increase for its rural customers than for its urban customers on the grounds that rural households and businesses are more spread out and therefore more expensive to service, and most of the repairs after windstorms occur in the rural areas.
At the time, the city asked the commission to approve an increase to rural rates of 18 per cent phased in over three years.
In the past, the commission has been reluctant to approve differing rural and urban rates at Nelson Hydro.
But in its July 19 decision, the commission did not rule on the question of higher rural rates, instead stating that, “The Panel observes that a possible outcome of the 2019 COSA is that Nelson Hydro’s rates for Rural and Urban customers may differ in the future.”
But the commission did not make a ruling on Nelsons’ rate increase request for rural areas. Before it decides on that, the commission wants the city to make amendments, within 30 days, to its Cost of Services Analysis. This involves a number of highly technical changes related to the costs of generating and purchasing power, and the allocation of those costs.
Nelson Hydro’s rural service area extends from its power plant on the Kootenay River up Kootenay Lake to Coffee Creek north of Queens Bay, and along Highway 6 past Perrier Road.
The BCUC decision can be found at https://bit.ly/3B5NXun.