BCUC/Fortis June 28th session summary

Dear Anarchist and Sidley Mountain Neighbours

You will recall that for the past several years some neighbours have been actively challenging Fortis’ policies on how they charge us using the Two – Tier Electricity rate structure. Our insistence, along with other concerned citizens in other rural communities resulted in a Residential Conservation Rate Review Report to the Minister of Energy, last year. Not too surprisingly the results f that report are not very helpful to us who pay exorbitant prices for electricity in the rural areas.

But the fight isn’t over.

Please take a moment and read the note below from Nick Marty that summarizes his attendance at a FORTIS Rate Setting public meeting on June 28th.  Nick also met with Mr. Morton, the Chairman of the BC Utilities Commission and gained some helpful insights into how FORTIS’ application for rate structure changes will be dealt with. Nick and I recently met and we have some ideas of how our community, along with other BC communities, may be able to take the fight of this economic discrimination forward.  Have a read below and stand by for more information in the coming weeks about how this battle may be able to be taken forward through the FORTIS rate application process.

Mark McKenney,President, AMCS,  250-495-4592

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On June 28, 2017, FortisBC (FBC) and the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) held an information session in Osoyoos pertaining to the upcoming FBC Rate Design Application. There will be a follow-up session in Osoyoos on July 26, 2017 at 6 pm at the Watermark Beach Resort.

BCUC and FBC explained that the upcoming FBC Rate Design Application would provide customers with a major opportunity to influence the design of the rate system. At present, there is a two-tier rate system in place, the Residential Conservation Rate (RCR) which has resulted in a major increase in rates for many Mountain residents. FBC intends to file an application with the BCUC around November 2017. Between now and then, FBC will be consulting on and investigating a number of rate structures, including changes to the current two-tier rates, a flat rate and time-of-use rates. They will propose a preferred option in their November rate application.

There are two stages for customer involvement. The first stage was kicked-off at the June 28th session. FBC gave a presentation on the various aspects of their upcoming application and requested feedback. This presentation can be viewed at fortisbc.com/electricityratedesign. You can comment on FBC’s June and July presentations, in person, at their sessions and/or online at the above website. I believe the key slides in the presentation are slide 24 “FortisBC’s Rate Design Principles” and 32 “Rate Design Options For Consideration”. The rate design options will be evaluated against the principles. And while the rate design options includes the major alternatives to two-tier rates (aka inclining block rates), the principles are far too vague. At the session FBC wouldn’t define their “undue discrimination” principle and then argued that the two-tier rates are not discriminatory. They were also vague about the objectives of the “conservation” principle. And they don’t appear to have a principle about environmental impacts”. It will be important to push them to define their principles more precisely so that the evaluation of options doesn’t end up being a meaningless exercise.

The second stage will commence when FBC files its rate design application with the BCUC. At the June 28th session, the Chair of the BCUC encouraged customers to group together and register as interveners (rather than simply sending in letters of comment) in order to have maximum impact on the decision-making process. Interveners can cross-examine the submissions by the utilities and other interveners and present expert studies to refute their arguments. And interveners can apply for funding to carry out these activities.

I will not be able to attend the July 26th session but encourage residents to do so. I will be commenting online and I will continue to provide updates on the AMCS website as we move forward.

Nick Marty

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