Fortis rate increases continue unabated

"The facts are, rate increases started immediately upon purchase of the company and in many years there has been multiple increases."

Your Dec. 29 news story of Fortis trying to justify yet another  rate increase to our electrical bill (“Electricity rates set to go up again in 2016,” Trail Times, Dec. 29) was very interesting, left out and what they failed to say is also very interesting .

“A slight trending rate increase started in 2013.”

The facts are, rate increases started immediately upon purchase of the company and in many years there has been multiple increases.

Fortis’ present electrical rates are 16 per cent higher than BC Hydro’s for the same electrical consumption per bill (Fortis $104.45; Hydro $89.70).

If Fortis is granted the present increase requested, our two tier electrical rate will be parallel or higher than Nova Scotia, that presently has the highest rate in Canada.

Amy Bunton, Fortis communications advisor said in the story;  “In the Kootenays, for example, upgrades to our four generating stations to ensure long-term, low-cost power for our customers.”

For 10+ years Fortis has billed customers for the $150 million upgrade to generators on the Kootenay River.

Since completion of upgrades to the 11 units there has been two major generator failures and ratepayers have been denied access to the cause, or who will pay for the major expenditures required to get them back on line.

Strangely the public utilities commission has granted Fortis their request for confidentiality on the whole situation. What do they have to hide?

The article also presented the $51 million advance metering expenditure for justification for yet another rate increase.

Fortis’ publicly stated; “There will be no charge to the utility customers for the installation of smart meters as a result of their efficiency,  elimination of meter readers and the elimination of  leakage,” which means  catching thief of power.

The article further states there will be a $13 million return to ratepayers as a result of the smart meter installations.

The article concludes with; “FortisBC is a regulated utility that works with the British Colombia utilities commission to determine rates.”

In my 15+ years of participation in this process I do not recall Fortis not been given approval to their request to major increases to our power rates.

At the most recent hearing, Fortis had 25 of its senior staff present, with one spokesperson from the commission to question Fortis presentation. How is this for a fair hearing?

Fortis presently has a application before the Commission for a $75 million expenditure in Castlegar, that will result in relocation of the Warfield operations to Castlegar along with consolidation of others small entities .

This represents the loss of industrial assessment to Trail in excess of 60 high paid jobs.

Sadly there are no intervenors registered from Trail or the surrounding areas to question this expenditure and another increase to our electrical rates.

Norm Gabana

Trail