LETTER: Nelson Hydro has not improved rural service reliability

From reader Dan Gatto

Re: Nelson Hydro proposes 4% increase for urban customers, 9.9% for rural, Nov. 25

Nelson Hydro (NH) has proposed rate increases for 2023 but do not include an additional application to be submitted in early December requesting modifications to the current COSA (Cost of Service Analysis) that will result in even higher rate increases.

NH says the current RRA (Revenue Requirement Application) for 2023 proposes a rural rate increase of 9.7 per cent based on the modified COSA model, because of inflation, FortisBC purchased power rates and vegetation management. The proposed urban increase of four per cent is only possible because the city can set whatever rate it wants for urban users as only rural users are regulated by the BCUC.

In addition, Nelson Hydro will be filing a Reconsideration Application in early December that will propose alternate generation and purchased power allocations, which are much more favourable to the city. If approved this would result in an even larger 2023 rural rate increase, which would be a hardship for many of the rural customers.

Further, the BCUC decision and Order G-225-21, of July 2021 critiques Nelson Hydro’s service reliability (https://bit.ly/3ifXQ0V).

“Nelson Hydro’s index of service reliability has deteriorated in recent years and [BCUC] finds that Nelson Hydro’s current level of service reliability to its rural customers is not adequate.

“The panel is particularly concerned about Nelson Hydro’s approach to capital investments to maintain service reliability. Nelson Hydro is a public utility regulated by the BCUC pursuant to the UCA with respect to service to its rural customers and must provide adequate service, something it is not presently doing.”

Any improved reliability, which as yet is to be experienced, will come as a result of BCUC orders, not because of customers who have complained for years.

I urge rural customers to attend the Dec. 1 open house at the Nelson Innovation Centre or write the BCUC with your concerns.

Dan Gatto