Recently FortisBC made a public statement that they would not be increasing the price of electricity in 2018, because they cared about their customers. Let’s judge that statement on its merits. Why, we must ask, is the company currently before the BC Utilities Commission asking for an increase in the basic charge from $16.05 to $18.70 per month?
This price increase, coupled with a return to the flat rate that FortisBC is also applying for, will cause any residential customer with a $50 monthly electricity budget to access 20.8 per cent fewer kWh per month. In contrast, if the BC Utilities Commission had banned the cost of service analysis used by the company, as the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission did in 1992, we residential customers would be accessing 19 per cent more electricity for the same $50 bill.
In fact while the consumer price index for British Columbia, for a basket of goods, increased by 11.3 per cent between 2008 and 2017, and the cost of energy as a whole increased by approximately 10.8 per cent, electricity prices rose by nearly 55.6 per cent. That’s right. The increase in the price of electricity was higher than that for cigarettes (40 per cent). Which leads me to ask: what’s the point of having a utilities regulator if they do not actually regulate the price of electricity, but simply hand over to FortisBC anything it asks for?
Under their current cost of service analysis and rate design, while those with the lowest consumption and those with the least amount of money to buy electricity face the increase described above, the 352 residential customers with the largest consumption above 35,000 kWh per year will get above a $3,600 a year rebate. That’s how FortisBC cares about you, the average and ordinary residential customer, and you should not just sit there and keep taking it. You should say something to the Premier, the Minister of Energy, your MLA and the BC Utilities Commission.
In their latest investor prospectus, Fortis Inc promised its shareholders a six per cent per annum increase in their annual dividends. Well, not on my dime you don’t, and I hope some of the hundred-thousand plus residential customers will join me in saying enough is enough. We have been overcharged for 26 years, so now is the time to start rolling the electricity prices back.