Hydro seeks 4% rate increase for 2017

BC Hydro has applied to the BC Utilities Commission for an interim one-year rate increase of four per cent for the 2017 fiscal year, effective April 1.

A statement from the utility said that for the average residential customer, the interim four per cent – or 0.004 cents per kilowatt hour – rate increase filed with the BC Utilities Commission will add $4 per month in electricity costs.

The new rate “is consistent with the 10-Year Rates Plan announced by the province in 2013 that capped increases at four per cent (fiscal 2017), 3.5 per cent (fiscal 2018) and three per cent (fiscal 2019),” it said.

The BC Utilities Commission will in the future determine the rate increases for the final five years of the 10-Year Plan.

“BC Hydro would typically file a full Revenue Requirements Application for the entire three-year period from fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2019,” the statement said. “Recent events in the mining and LNG sectors have led to BC Hydro opting to file an interim rate application for fiscal 2017 now and the final Revenue Requirements Application this summer. The extra time will allow BC Hydro to update its Load-Resource Balance study which is used by BC Hydro to forecast long-term changes in electricity demand and the supply options required to meet that demand. BC Hydro anticipates continuing to see an overall long-term increase in electricity demand province-wide. The most recent study from October 2015 shows that demand for power in B.C. will grow by almost 40 per cent over the next 20 years.”

The statement quoted Hydro President and CEO Jessica McDonald as saying, “We are on-track to deliver the 10-Year Plan which provides certainty for British Columbians and ensures rates remain as low as possible while BC Hydro invests in the electricity system.”

She said Hydro must invest, on average, $2.4 billion a year in the province’s aging electricity system to ensure BC continues to benefit from safe, reliable, clean power. Most of BC Hydro’s major facilities were built in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s and it must maintain and refurbish those assets while investing in new infrastructure to meet the growing demand for power.

BC Hydro will continue to provide its customers, including public sector organizations like schools and hospitals, with tools and resources to conserve power.

According to the statement, other highlights of BC Hydro’s plan:

  • According to an independent study, BC Hydro’s rates are the third lowest in North America for residential customers, fourth lowest in North America for commercial customers, and fifth lowest in North America for industrial customers.
  • In its upcoming fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2019 Revenue Requirements Application, BC Hydro will file for increases of four percent (fiscal 2017), 3.5 percent (fiscal 2018) and three percent (fiscal 2019) as announced previously in the 10-Year Plan.
  • BC Hydro will invest $375 million in conservation programs and $7.6 billion in capital projects over the next three years.
  • Construction will ramp up further this year on the Site C Clean Energy project. The project will help meet growing long-term electricity demand by providing British Columbia with an energy and capacity resource.
  • The need for new long-term capacity resources after Site C is also being advanced due to major maintenance requirements at Mica. The planned in-service date for Revelstoke 6 has been advanced to fiscal 2026 and could be in-service as early as fiscal 2022 if required.