Rates going through the roof

Family's electrical bill from Fortis was over $800, which is a 25.8 per cent increase over the same period last yea

We read publisher Mark Walker’s April 5 column “Utility rates a shock to the system” with great interest.

For the second period in a row, our electrical bill from Fortis was over $800, which is a 25.8 per cent increase over the same period last year. We wrote to Fortis, who reviewed our account over the last three years, and confirmed that year over year, we have used less kilowatt hours as we have improved the efficiency of our house. Fortis also explained that the Residential Conservation Rate (RCR) has caused the dollar amount to increase as the second tier is about four cents higher than previous FortisBC rates. The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) had Fortis implement the RCR in hopes that consumers will watch their usage.

We live in a small two-bedroom house that is over 40 years old. We have converted our light bulbs, changed our appliances to energy star, we turn off lights and turn down the heat. There are no more efficiencies that we can implement that we can afford, short of turning off all power. We do not have a secondary heat source, so we do not have another option to stay warm. We cannot afford to continue to pay the higher rates.

We then wrote to the BCUC. Their reply: “Your bill may have increased because of the implementation of the residential conservation rate… The commission took customer bill impact into consideration in its decision. The 1,600 kWh step one threshold represents the median residential consumption for FortisBC customers, in other words, 50 per cent of FortisBC residential customers use less than 1,600 kWh bimonthly and 50 per cent use more. Setting the step one threshold at 1,600 kWh results in 95 per cent of customers seeing a bill increase of 10 per cent or less… The rate will be reviewed in early 2014”

It is hard to believe that only five per cent of Fortis residential customers have seen an increase of over 10 per cent in their utility bill. When we asked BCUC how many other complaints they have received, they did not respond. Please, Fortis electric customers, review your bill, and get vocal about the increase. A review in 2014 is not good enough for this taxpayer. Now is the time to unveil the truth about this money grab, mandated by the provincial government. Christy Clark, you will be hearing from us.

Ken and Deb Wagar