Tuesday December 1, 2020 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
As winter sets in, this news that BC Hydro will be decreasing their rates by an additional 0.61% in 2020-21 is no doubt welcomed by households, business and industry.
As well, it’s good news in the holiday season that customers will receive a one-time bill credit in early 2021. It will be comprised of an amount equivalent to the 0.61% decrease being retroactive to April 1, 2020.
It will amount to a one-time bill credit of about $4 on average for residential customers, it was stated by BC Hydro today. Commercial customers will receive from $10 to $600 on average depending on the size of the business. Industrial customers will receive up to $375,000.
In its decision in the Fiscal 2020/21 Revenue Requirements Application, the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) requested BC Hydro to amend its rate reduction to reflect last year’s results and the latest financial forecast. As a result, this year’s rate will go from a net decrease of 1.01% to a net decrease of 1.62%.
This comes after year-upon-year of BC Hydro rate increases, for decades.
BC Hydro plans to file its next Revenue Requirement Application with the BCUC in mid-December. “It is focused on keeping rates low for its customers, and any rate change would require the Commission’s approval,” it was stated in BC Hydro’s news release today.
Energy minister is pleased:
An announcement about this was issued this afternoon, Tuesday December 1, by Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation.
“Our government knows families and businesses are facing challenges none of us could have imagined due to the global pandemic. We are dedicated to putting people first. This one-time bill credit will provide some help for all BC Hydro customers, including residential commercial and industrial,” said Ralston in a statement.
Ralston says that over the last three years government has been focused on keeping BC Hydro rates affordable and using more of BC’s clean, reliable hydroelectricity in place of fossil fuels to power vehicles, homes and industry.
Heading in the right direction:
“This year’s rate cut — the first in decades — is a step in the right direction as we continue to build an economy that works for people,” said Minister Ralston.
Earlier this year it was evident that people’s in-home use of electricity would increase during the pandemic. The BC Government made a COVID-credit available who qualified based on income level or evident impact. Today’s announcement applies across the board and foregoes the customer qualification process which carried a significant administrative overload.
Managing the trend:
Meanwhile, in mid-September, BC Hydro issued a report with findings that “after an unprecedented drop in electricity demand due to COVID-19, overall power consumption in B.C. is trending upwards as a result of businesses reopening and British Columbians heading back to work”.
That could be seen as a public relations effort to ease people’s comfort level with electricity use again, in that any new skills for energy savings might not be overdone (in the interest of the BC Hydro bottom line).
Electricity use at home decreases after first wave of pandemic, says BC Hydro (September 14, 2020)
Industry gets further deferral of electricity bills (June 21, 2020)
Hydro rates drop and relief credit available (April 6, 2020)
Electricity during the COVID-19 pandemic: usage, payments (March 28, 2020)
Keeping track of electricity use (BC Hydro calculator)