Was any consideration given to low income and pension households with respect to the conservation rate was a question put forward to British Columbia Utilities Commission’s Alison Thorson, Director of Policy, Planning and Customer Relations. Her response:
Yes, according to FortisBC’s application for the Residential Conservation Rate “while 14 per cent and 23 percent of customers in the <$20,000 and $20,000-$40,000 income categories respectively will experience an annual bill increase, the average customer in these categories will see bills decrease between 0.8 per cent and 6.7 per cent under any of the options.”
Thorson further explained that consideration had been given to those communities or individual customers that had no alternative to electric power for their heating purposes.
“The purpose of the rate is to encourage electricity conservation and while the commission did not specifically look at customers without access to natural gas, the commission specifically looked at customers with electric heat.
In the proceeding FortisBC proposed 18 different options for the two-tier rate and the current rate was chosen, in part, because 95 per cent of customers (including those with electric heat) would see a bill increase of 10 per cent or less.
This impact was considered not “unduly punitive” to customers with electric heat. However, in the review of the rate that will take place in early 2014, FortisBC must specifically how the rate impacts customers with electric heat.”