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BC Hydro continues to keep rates low, below inflation

October 30, 2023 at 1:27 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Families and businesses in British Columbia will continue to see affordable, stable electricity rates under BC Hydro’s latest application to the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC).

For the sixth consecutive year, BC Hydro is applying for a rate increase below the rate of inflation.

“With costs rising across the country at rates that are unsustainable for many people, it’s more important than ever for us keep the cost of clean electricity down,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “Affordable, stable BC Hydro rates are good for people, businesses and climate as we work together to power our growing economy with renewable energy instead of fossil fuels.”

BC Hydro is applying to the BCUC for a 2.3% rate increase that would take effect on April 1, 2024. If approved, it would add approximately $2 per month to the average residential customer’s bill.  

BC Hydro rates are currently 15.6% lower than the cumulative rate of inflation over the past seven years (starting 2017-18). In addition, rates are currently 12.4% lower than the previous government’s 10 Year Rates Plan, saving residential customers approximately $36 million per year, commercial customers approximately $32 million per year and industrial customers approximately $14 million per year.

In early 2023, BC Hydro also provided $315 million in cost-of-living bill credits to B.C. families and small businesses, including those who receive their electricity service from FortisBC or a municipal utility. Residential customers received a credit of $100, and commercial customers received a credit averaging approximately $450 based on their previous year’s electricity consumption.

After considering a variety of options and looking at the long-term impacts, a modest rate increase is being put forward to the BCUC to keep increases below inflation and reduce bill volatility from year to year. Affordable, stable rates also support households and businesses in switching from fossil fuels to clean electricity, helping to reduce climate emissions and air pollution as B.C.’s economy grows.

Although BC Hydro’s current application will only set rates for next year (2024-25), it is based on what rate increases would be if smoothed for the next five years, with annual increases of 2.3% per year.

“BC Hydro is committed to keeping electricity rates stable and affordable,” said Chris O’Riley, president and CEO of BC Hydro. “Our rates application would keep electricity rates among the lowest in North America, while supporting important investments in our system to serve B.C.’s growing population and the shift to clean electricity in vehicles, homes and businesses to reduce carbon emissions.”  

Rate adjustments will be determined by the BCUC following a transparent regulatory process. As an outcome of Phase 1 of the BC Hydro review in 2019, the government returned oversight to the BCUC on a number of matters the previous government took away, including rate changes, use of regulatory accounts and BC Hydro’s long-term Integrated Resource Plan.

A decision about BC Hydro’s rates application is anticipated by the end of February 2024.

Quick Facts:

  • BC Hydro rates remain among the lowest in North America. On average, BC Hydro customers pay one-third of what customers pay in San Francisco, which has the highest rates in North America.
  • Adjusting for inflation, electricity in B.C. costs the same today as it did in 1978.
  • BC Hydro’s Electrification Plan includes investments of more than $260 million on incentives and programs to advance electrification in B.C. by focusing on three key segments – homes and buildings, transportation and industry.

Learn More:

To view a graph comparing BC Hydro’s cumulative rate adjustments to inflation (B.C. Consumer Price Index) starting 2017-18, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BCHydro_Rates_Comparison.pdf

To participate in or follow BC Hydro’s rates application to the BCUC, visit: https://www.bcuc.com/OurWork/Proceedings

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