Rate imposes hardship

Will anything be done to alleviate this abysmal situation with FortisBC?

I was asked to participate in a CBC radio interview May 30 concerning my ongoing petition and opposition to the drastic rate increase that is being imposed on the citizens of B.C. by FortisBC and condoned by the BCUC. In fact the rate increase was ordered by the BCUC in order to convince the electrical consumers to conserve on electrical energy and naturally Fortis was eager to comply. But what is wrong with this picture?

Asking a company with a vested interest to come up with a plan to conserve energy? Fortis makes money by selling energy, whether electricity or natural gas, so why in the world would they want to cut back on the sales of their product? What do I hope to accomplish by promoting a petition that is aimed at questioning the actions of both the BCUC and FortisBC? For starters, let’s abandon the two block system where there is no alternative energy such as natural gas available. This penalizes those that rely solely on electricity and actually subsidizes those that can live with using 800KWH per month, or less.

Next: Question the rate increases that are supposedly for the purpose of convincing the public that conservation of electricity is necessary, although electrical consumption in B.C. has fallen over the past two years. This decrease in consumption is mainly because more communities are switching to natural gas as this form of energy becomes available. This also comes into question the purpose of building the Site C dam in the Peace River area of the province. Who is paying for this and who will benefit? Apparently it is the oil and gas companies that will benefit and not the public, but is the taxpayer expected to partner in this operation.

Next: Question the amount of increase. Apparently FortisBC asked for an increase of 6 per cent but was turned down by the BCUC. The BCUC then awarded them an increase of  4.2 per cent and an adjustment of 2.3 per cent which any mathematition will tell you amounts to a 6.5 per cent increase, more than Fortis had initially asked for in the first place. And, in an interview with a Fortis representative, he suggested that some customers will receive an increase of more than 10 per cent. What is the final increase — 4.2 per cent, 6.5 per cent, 10 per cent? My personal increase was 21 per cent compared to last year. Between January 2011 and January 2013 there have been eight increases or adjustments approved by the BCPUC amounting to 17.5 per cent in increases with an additional increase of 4.2 per cent and the adjustment of 2.3 per cent in January of this year.

Basically what I am trying to do is to force the government to appoint an independent panel to audit the price, practices and principles of both the BCUC and FortisBC. Only by bringing attention to this financial hardship imposed on the poor and elderly, those on fixed incomes, will anything be done to alleviate this abysmal situation.

Donald E Thorsteinson

Oliver