FortisBC has some good news for their electricity customers, promising no changes to electric rates for 2018.
But it’s too early to say if that means rates are going to stay the same at Penticton’s electric utility, which buys wholesale from Fortis.
Mitch Moroziuk, director of operations for Penticton, says the 2018-19 rate structure is being worked on right now, and expects it will be presented to Penticton city council at their next regular meeting.
“We didn’t do a rate increase from 2017 to 2018. We made a small adjustment on the basic rate, but nothing appreciable. And there was no increase to the kilowatt/hour charge or the demand charge,” said Moroziuk. “Fortis didn’t do an increase (last year), so we didn’t do one. We didn’t need to.”
Moroziuk can’t say yet whether the same thing will happen with this year’s rate setting, since it needs to be presented to city council first.
“It should be coming out in a couple of weeks,” he said.
Each year, Fortis submits an application for B.C. Utilities Commission approval that determines the rates for the following year. The 2017 rates stayed in place as interim rates while the BCUC considered the application; this decision makes these rates permanent for 2018.
Fortis said management of project and operation costs are helping keep electric rates steady.
“We’re pleased our customers will see no change to their electricity rates this year,” said Diane Roy, vice-president, regulatory affairs, FortisBC. “Keeping rates as low as possible is always a priority for us and this year’s results reflect the success we’ve had in reducing costs while continuing to make necessary system improvements.”
The BCUC decision helps keep FortisBC electricity rates below average when compared to other cities across North America, even though it has invested more than $1 billion in system upgrade projects since taking over the utility in 2004. The cost of these past projects is now absorbed into rates through smaller, annual increments that ensure the investments are recovered over the life of the upgrades.
These upgrades have proved beneficial to customers. Projects like transmission line upgrades and substation improvements in the Okanagan made sure the system met the record-setting electricity needs of customers over the recent heat wave.
The advanced meter infrastructure project, completed in 2015, is reducing costs and allowing customers to see their hour-by-hour consumption so they are empowered to plan and manage their energy use. The upgrades to the Ruckles substation in Grand Forks, completed ahead of schedule this year, ensured continued service to the area was possible during this spring’s flooding.
“We’ll continue to look for cost savings in our operations as well as make the necessary investments into the system to ensure our customers have the safe, reliable power they rely on every day,” said Roy.
For more information about how rates are set and current rates, visit fortisbc.com/electricrates.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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