‘Heat or eat’ will be only option for those on fixed incomes

Local resident replies to recent Trail Times Letter to the Editor, sharing why the public should be involved in the FortisBC lockout

In response to Dale Evens’ letter on Nov. 26, I believe the public (Fortis rate payers) should be drawn into the lockout by Fortis. Fortis electric is a small company by B.C. standards, 110,000 customers (but large on the global market) and is also a shareholder-driven company.

Between 2011-2012 they made $100 million in profits. They (we) pay their CEO $1.4 million/year (three times BC Hydro’s CEO), four top managers over $2 million/year, and a one-manager to two-worker ratio (absurd).

When Fortis locked out IBEW 213 (now into it’s sixth month), they also applied to the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) for another 3.3 per cent increase. We are already 20 per cent higher than BC Hydro’s rates and Fortis, in their submissions to BCUC for the years 2014-2018, are asking for another 19 per cent. Even with Hydro’s 28 per cent increase for the next five years, we will still be higher.

What irks me is that it was our local rivers that were dammed in the first place to provide B.C. with electricity and yet we pay the higher rates. Not only will we be paying more for electricity, there will be the trickle down effects, such as higher property taxes and higher merchandise prices to pay for these increases.

While Hydro needs these increases to fix their aging infrastructure (Hydro along with other crown corporations seem to be the province’s private piggy banks), Fortis with tax breaks and grants have fixed a lot of theirs. Fortis doesn’t need any more increases.

When their profits go down to $15 million/year than they can apply. Not once in Fortis’ tenure, have any savings been passed back to the customer. Heat or eat is soon, if not already, going to be the only option for people on fixed incomes (seniors, single parents, and low wage earners).

Did you know that IBEW 213 went to the Labour relations Board to have the monies “saved” by their lockout passed back to the customer? Fortis refused. BCUC has already said Fortis’ managers were overpaid and the union was underpaid by as much as 10.5 per cent for some members. Their own VP stated Fortis was having a hard time retaining skilled workers-you wonder why? CUPE asked for and received a 3 per cent wage increase from a broke school board yet Fortis with all their profits, locked out their union for the same 3 per cent. Go figure.

In the event of a massive power outage, I also wonder if Fortis has the capability to get the power back on in a reasonable time frame.

All the above information is on IBEW 213’s Facebook page.

Lorne Fillmore, Trail