The BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) has approved FortisBC’s request to maintain 2017 electricity rates in 2018.
“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.”
Each year, FortisBC must submit an application for BCUC 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.
This 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.
Since a performance-based rate-making (PBR) structure was put in place in 2014, FortisBC rate increases have also trended downward. The FortisBC PBR structure provides a formula for how much the company can spend on operations, maintenance and capital projects. It also provides an incentive for the company to perform well, reduce costs and share those savings with customers. Under the PBR structure, at the end of 2017, operations and maintenance savings totaling $6 million have helped to lower or eliminate rate increases.
“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.
Projects now underway include updating and modernizing the four original power generation units at the 110-year old Upper Bonnington Generation Plant and replacing the lift gates at the Corra Linn Dam, two of FortisBC’s four hydroelectric facilities.
For more information about how rates are set and current rates, visit fortisbc.com/electricrates.