Residents of Olalla appeared at the regional district boardroom on March 21 to listen to Fortis representative Bob Gibney explain the recent “conservation” rate applied to Fortis bills since the beginning of the year.
Many residents, in spite of press releases and notices in Fortis bills, failed to heed the warning of an impending price increase until the saw it on their first bill of the year.
There have been some shocking instances of massive increases in residents’ bills, with one of the hardest hit communities being Olalla.
Most of Fortis’ customers in the community live on limited incomes, and don’t have access to alternative energy sources such as natural gas. They have few, if any, options to take from what appears to be more of a punitive rate than one meant to encourage conservation.
For their part, Fortis insists that they are merely conduits for the increase, made at the behest of British Columbia Utilities Commission. They intend to offer community talks in the hopes of offering the residents some useful solutions to their high energy bills, and they insist they are not profiting by the increase.
We would like to see the BCUC come forward to present us with some justification for the onerous increase in residential billing, increases that go from 8 to 12 cents per kilowatt hour after only 800 kilowatts – when the average residence uses 1,200 kilowatts per month.
After all, its their program, and from the sound of it so far, there are a number of issues that need to be addressed – not just for low income groups, but for every customer that has seen their hydro costs spike in spite of their best efforts to save energy.