FortisBC announced there will be no rate increases to natural gas or electricity on January.                                FortisBC photo

FortisBC announced there will be no rate increases to natural gas or electricity on January. FortisBC photo

No January rate increases, announces FortisBC

Natural gas rates to drop in 2018

We all dread those post-Christmas bills that come with the new year’s mail.

But there will be one bill we might not dread quite as much as in past years.

For the first time since 2013, Kootenay residents won’t see their electricity and gas bills go up in January.

FortisBC announced Wednesday that rates for electricity customers will remain the same as 2017, albeit for the interim, while natural gas rates will actually be going down for customers in the Kootenays.

The company states in its press release that residential customers in the Kootenays will see “an approximate overall annual decrease of six per cent or $45,” to their natural gas bill.

Nicole Bogdanovic, FortisBC corporate communications advisor, told the Trail Times the decrease in rate is attributed to several factors.

“This overall change is the result of a decrease to the cost of gas, decrease to the storage and transport rate and a small increase to the delivery rate due to the transition from the last year of common rates being phased in across the province,” she explained in an email reply.

“The cost of gas will be decreasing for the majority of customers and will be at one of the lowest levels in the past decade.”

While the announcement that the electricity rate will remain the same heading into 2018, the rate could rise slightly later in the year.

FortisBC has applied to the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) for a rate increase of 0.17 per cent for 2018 and this amount is now under regulatory review.

“The January 1 electricity rate will be an interim rate, and a decision from the BCUC on the permanent rate is expected in early spring,” Bogdanovic told the Trail Times on Wednesday.

“Once the decision is received, there is the potential for a small bill adjustment for our customers. Given the increase is expected to be very low, it made sense to have just a single rate change this year.”

Since 2013, when electricity rates went up over 4 per cent, FortisBC has announced annual rate increases of roughly 3 per cent from 2014 to 2017. Those increases usually take place on Jan. 1 of the new year.

The past increases have been attributed to several factors including upgrades to generating stations in the Kootenays to the construction of the new Kootenay Operations Centre in Castlegar.

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