BC Hydro applies for lower rates
British Columbians could pay less for electricity next spring if the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) approves BC Hydro’s request for a decrease in rates.
“For the past two years, our government has been focused on making sure BC Hydro works for people again,” said Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. “I am thrilled that BC Hydro is now able to apply for a rate reduction for the first time in decades. If approved by our independent regulator, lower rates would make life better and more affordable for British Columbians.”
BC Hydro’s application to the BCUC is based on its audited fiscal 2019 financial results and latest financial forecast that reflect, among other things, higher-than-anticipated income from its trading subsidiary Powerex, lower-than-anticipated forecast debt financing costs and lower-than-anticipated purchases from independent power producers (IPPs).
“As a result of our updated financial forecast, we’re in the unique position to apply for a rate decrease for our customers that would start on April 1, 2020, if approved by the B.C. Utilities Commission,” said Chris O’Riley, president and chief operating officer, BC Hydro. “We’re committed to continue to work with government and the B.C. Utilities Commission to keep rates affordable while ensuring we continue to provide safe, reliable power to the province.”
The proposed lower rates build on the results of Phase 1 of government’s comprehensive review of BC Hydro, which was completed in February 2019. Measures flowing from the review include actions to keep electricity rates affordable for customers by cutting costs – including by indefinitely suspending the Standing Offer Program for IPPs – and expanding independent oversight of BC Hydro by the BCUC.
If approved, the net bill impacts of the new rates forecast will be: April 2020: decrease of one per cent; April 2021: increase of 2.7%; April 2022: decrease of 0.3%; April 2023: increase of three per cent.
If approved, the cumulative bill increase over the next five years is estimated to be 6.2%. This is 23% lower than the 8.1% cumulative increase announced in February 2019 as part of the results of Phase 1 of government’s review of BC Hydro; and 55% lower than the 13.7% cumulative increase for the same period under the previous government’s 10-year rates plan.
The BCUC is expected make a final decision on BC Hydro’s 2019-20 and 2020-21 rates early in 2020.