Penticton Western News letters to the editor.

Letter: Fair electric pricing needed

We will continue to work for fair electric pricing in B.C.

Fair electric pricing needed

We have a 22-year-old energy efficient dwelling with an energy efficient rating of 82.7 out of a possible 83. We are given to understand that you believe that high electric costs are not driving consumers to switch to fossil fuel.

We are living proof that you are very mistaken.

When we built this house we had to choose our heating method. We did not want wood as we have a resident with asthma (EPA-certified wood heaters were not available at that time). We eliminated gas, as it was not available. Oil and propane were also ruled out due to cost. We chose electricity, as it was green and close to the price of gas. According to West Kootenay Power Ltd. on March 10, 1995 (now FortisBC) the annual average house heating cost for a high efficiency gas furnace was $361.83 and for an air-to-air heat pump was $427.68. Electric was $65.85 more expensive (18.2 per cent). We wish this ratio existed in today’s world.

With the new rates, electricity no longer is viable as an affordable option. However, we installed our infrastructure to support electric heat as it was then a reasonable option. We were not alone in coming to the same conclusion. Now all of us are facing extremely high heating costs because government changed the rules and moved the goal posts.

We have heated with an air source heat pump since 1995. Since then, we have spent in excess of $25,000 in upgrades to have a high efficiency heat pump, zone heating, LED and CFL lighting, energy efficient appliances, insulated our duct work, installed an efficient hot water heating system on a timer, installed solar film on the windows, heat only one room at night to livable standards, cook with a toaster oven and microwave to reduce electric consumption and wash clothes only when a sufficient volume has been accumulated and installed low-flush toilets.

Last winter our house was an average of 16.3 C in January and 15 C in February. Had we heated the house to 20 C for 12 hours a day and 17 C at night our cost would have gone up $800. This amount will buy us 3.36 tons of pellets (enough for two seasons) and a daytime temperature of 22 C (a temperature we can only dream of when using electric heat). It’s extra work, but the results are more than worth the effort.

We feel sad for those who do not possess the means, either physical or financial, to escape from two-tier hell.

There is no electricity shortage in British Columbia. We export a great deal of power at low wholesale rates to the U.S. which should be sold to B.C. users at a single retail rate. This would help electric heat users, provide higher rates of return for providers and ultimately a higher tax revenue for the province. It would even be fair since every customer would pay the same price for the KWH that they use. The policy is defacto rationing of heat in a climate where this is not an option.

We will continue to work for fair electric pricing in B.C. and will not go away silently into that good night.

James and Nanene McGinnigle


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