There have been several mixed responses to the proposed propane subsidy in Revelstoke according to B.C. Utilities Commission’s website.
FortisBC is proposing an amalgamation of propane and natural gas rates.
Revelstoke operates as a satellite off-grid distribution system where propane is brought in via rail or truck, stored and distributed as needed. Fortis has 1,500 customers in Revelstoke and claims that implementing a subsidy would reduce their customers’ annual propane bill.
|A propane leak last month caused the power to be turned off in Revelstoke so emergency crews and Fortis BC could make the necessary repairs. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)|
Fortis estimates, should the system be changed, Revelstoke residential customers would see yearly savings averaging $407, $2,100 for small businesses and $48,200 for large commercial users.
In August, Cornelius Suchy, CEO at Canadian Biomass Energy Research Ltd., presented to Revelstoke city council that the proposed subsidy will have detrimental effects on alternative energy forms. He also said that he believes subsidizing the use of fossil fuels in times of climate crisis is not the right move and requested the city opposes Fortis’ plans.
This “would counter the government’s efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases,” said Suchy in his written response to B.C. Utilities Commission.
Another letter to the commission is from Peter Humphreys at Big Eddy Fuel Services Ltd., who has delivered heating oil for over 20 years in Revelstoke. He said lower propane rates “will result in the elimination of heating oil as an economically viable heat source.”
He would like FortisBC to compensate Big Eddy Fuel Services Ltd., either directly or through purchasing the company. Humphrey also asked FortisBC to consider extending gas services to customers on Mt. Begbie Rd., to eliminate the last pocket of developed areas without service.
Revelstoke mayor Gary Sulz also wrote a letter, saying the proposed rate change could negatively impact the Revelstoke Community Energy Corporation. In a later interview with Black Press, Sulz said part of the reason for intervening was to be included in the conversation and get a seat at the table. Sulz furthered, he supports the rate change for Revelstokians.
Angus Woodman, plant manager of Downie Timber, also contacted the commission, saying “we are very supportive of Fortis’ application to treat our company and employees equitably to all other citizens in British Columbia.”
Downie Timber is the largest employer in Revelstoke, directly employing 350 people. Woodman said in his letter that the cost of living in Revelstoke is steadily increasing, therefore “anything that can be done to reduce the cost of living in Revelstoke is welcomed.”
Susan Black, a senior on a fixed income in Revelstoke wrote to the commission that she’s “surprised and thrilled” about the proposal.
“What a fantastic idea.”
Another letter was from J. Grainger Wilson in Revelstoke. Wilson wrote that, since B.C. Hydro inundated the Columbia River valley to generate electricity for the rest of the province, Revelstoke ought to “pay for gas what everyone else does.”
In July, natural gas for residential properties was $7.36 per GJ, compared with $13.79 GJ for propane.
B.C. Utilities Commission should make a decision sometime next year.
While other letters have been sent to the commission, this article highlights those from Revelstoke residents.