For a second straight year, FortisBC’s electricity rates will not go up on the first of January.
“FortisBC has determined that it can meet its revenue requirements for 2019 with the 2018 rates,” the company stated last month. “And has applied to the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) to keep these rates in place.”
The BCUC has now approved that request in the interim pending a decision on permanent rates.
“This reflects our ongoing priority of keeping rates as low as possible, while still meeting our customers’ expectations for quality service,” stated Diane Roy, vice president, Regulatory Affairs, FortisBC. “Our last rate change occurred in 2017 and if our application is approved, 2019 will mark the third year these rates have been in place.”
In others words, electricity users will pay the same rate this year that they did in 2017 and 2018.
Information about new year rates are generally released in December because FortisBC must submit its revenue requirements, for the following year, to the BCUC for approval.
Those numbers determine the rates the company must charge its customers.
The utility provider stated, “One of the key reasons FortisBC can meet its 2019 revenue requirements with existing rates is due to its focus on reducing costs while also making necessary system improvements and long-term investments in its infrastructure.”
Although the cost of electricity won’t go up Jan. 1, FortisBC’s natural gas rates will increase as much as $68 annually in some parts of B.C.
The natural gas utility suffered a setback earlier this fall, when an Enbridge natural gas pipeline ruptured near Prince George and cut off flows on Oct. 9.
The line was out of commission for weeks, before being restored up to 80 per cent capacity in November.
“Beginning January 1, 2019, residential natural gas customers will see an increase to their bills,” FortisBC announced in December. “The Enbridge pipeline rupture required us to secure additional natural gas supply to maintain service to customers, resulting in an increase in costs for the interim.”
This is the sixth and final year FortisBC has had a performance-based rate structure in place.
“This provides an incentive for the company to reduce costs and share those savings with customers,” the company stated. “Rate increases have trended downward since this structure came into effect in 2014 and since that time, FortisBC has shared $5 million in savings with customers.”
In addition to a regulatory review, the BCUC is also continuing to look over FortisBC’s Rate Design application that includes a request to phase out the two-tiered rate over five years. Decisions on both these applications are expected in the first quarter of 2019, and may result in bill adjustments for users.