At its March 23 meeting, Nelson City Council decided that effective April 1, there will be a 3.32 per cent increase in hydro rates for its urban and rural customers for 2021.
For Nelson Hydro’s rural customers, that increase requires the approval of the BC Utilities Commission. The commission gave its approval on an interim basis on March 15. Should the commission reverse that decision before it is made final, Nelson Hydro will have to reimburse its rural customers for the amount of the increase paid from April 1.
For Nelson Hydro customers within the city, BCUC approval of rate increases is not required.
Nelson Hydro states that the increase is to cover inflation and a 4.36 per cent increase, as of Jan. 1, in rates imposed by FortisBC, from which Nelson buys half of its power.
In a separate application to the BCUC, Nelson Hydro is asking for approval of a rate increase for its rural residential customers of 5.72 per cent per year for the next three years starting Sept. 1, 2021. BCUC has not yet made a decision on this application.
Nelson Hydro has said it needs different rates between rural and urban areas because customers are more spread out and therefore more expensive to service, and most of the repairs after windstorms occur in the rural areas.
The BCUC has received 85 letters over the past few months from rural residents opposing one or the other or both of the two categories of increases described above. The letters and Nelson Hydro’s replies can be found at https://bit.ly/39lwNdw.
Nelson Hydro’s rural customers include residents in Taghum, Blewett and the North Shore to Coffee Creek, including city councillors Rik Logtenberg, Cal Renwick and Jesse Woodward who live in those areas.
This story was updated on March 28 to correct a number of errors in the description of the rate increases.