FortisBC responds to reader’s letter on rates

"FortisBC recognizes that the cost of electricity is an important consideration for customers."

Providing good customer service, as well as a safe and reliable supply of electricity at the lowest reasonable cost, is a priority for FortisBC. On Jan. 7, a Trail Times reader raised concern in a letter about FortisBC’s increase in electricity rates and company projects (Fortis rate increases continue unabated, Trail Times Jan. 7).

FortisBC recognizes that the cost of electricity is an important consideration for customers.

This is why FortisBC is meeting the challenge of balancing ongoing infrastructure improvements with the impact on rates by focusing on those projects that provide the system reliability and integrity our customers require.

FortisBC is regulated by the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC). Through transparent, public proceedings, the BCUC approves the overall revenue we collect from our customers to cover the cost of providing service. The BCUC also approves the rate structure that appears on customers’ bills.

We are evaluating the way our business operates to more efficiently meet our customers’ service expectations and are committed to building long-term, cooperative relationships with them.

For example, major deployment of advanced metering infrastructure throughout our electricity service territory was completed late last year and is anticipated to save customers approximately $14 million over the life of the project.

FortisBC has applied to the BCUC for the construction of a new Kootenay Operations Centre. This will replace existing, aging facilities in the Kootenay region, unify our long-term space requirements and meet commitments to our customers and employees. The investment is $20 million, much less than was claimed by the reader’s letter. At this time we are working through a public regulatory proceeding for these facilities. We anticipate a decision in 2016.

Since purchasing the utility in 2004, FortisBC has invested approximately $1 billion in required safety and reliability upgrades and have added onto the system to support growth in the region.

We seek to balance the long-term cost of maintaining infrastructure with short-term changes in rates that customers see.

For decades, our four hydro-electric plants have provided low-cost, renewable power to our customers. Because of our significant ongoing investment, these assets will continue to be our lowest cost source of electricity generation for our customers for decades to come.

We continually invest in our infrastructure to make sure we have a modern system that ensures customers receive reliable, cost effective service with minimal interruption.

We appreciate our customers’ interest in this process. Customers can follow regulatory proceedings for all of our applications on the BCUC’s website at www.bcuc.com. Customers interested in learning more about their rates can visit www.fortisbc.com/electricityrates or call us toll free at 1-866-436-7847, Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Roger Dall’Antonia,Executive Vice President, Customer Service & Regulatory Affairs, FortisBC