Charged up over rates

Fortis sacrificing five per cent of its customers so that 75 per cent can save on the electric bills

This letter is in response to the recent letter from Tom Loski, vice-president of customer service with FortisBC. In his letter, Mr. Loski states that the B.C. Utilities Commission mandated FortisBC to implement the new residential conservation rate after looking at a variety of different rates and the impact they would have on high-use customers, electric heat customers and low-income customers. They came to the conclusion that 75 per cent of their customers would see lower annual bills and five per cent would see annual increases of more than 10 per cent.

So what Mr. Loski is saying, if I am reading him correctly, is that FortisBC decided to sacrifice five per cent of their customers so that 75 per cent of them could pay less for electricity. If you happen to live in an area with no option to connect to gas, then you will pay the higher rate.

I believe that this is blatantly wrong and have written to the BCUC and sent a copy of the same letter to FortisBC stating that the new rate is punitive and outrageous and that they should reconsider the usage level at which the higher rate comes into effect. Taking average uses for specific areas, such as Olalla or Cawston, instead of lumping us together with areas such as Penticton, where everybody has the option of using gas heat, would result in a much more realistic rate level. Using 800 kwh per month or 1,600 kwh every two months is not possible for households where there is no gas option.

This past year, from March 2012 to September 2012, we used a total of 5,265 kwh for an average of 2,124 kwh per month. Mr. Loski states that we may see higher bills in the winter months but will see lower bills in the summer. You can see that even in the summer, we used more than 800 kwh per month, so the much higher winter cost will not be offset by the lower summer usage. My wife and I do not waste electricity, so I would like to know how we could possibly get our average usage down to where Mr. Loski thinks it should be.

This new rate system was introduced to save electricity and I believe it was done so that Fortis would have more power available to sell on the open market, not to save you and me money. I know that a lot of people are angry and we need to keep letting Fortis and the BCUC know how we feel.

Bill Copeland

Cawston