The Guess Who
pix by me this morning – eyes are heavy paper with some artwork – another addition to the icon on the hill
The Guess Who
pix by me this morning – eyes are heavy paper with some artwork – another addition to the icon on the hill
In 2016 the BCUC sought comments from the public on RCR’s.
The following is what I sent in to demonstrate the effect of RCR’s on us. In summary, our costs increased dramatically and our consumption rose slightly ( being on electric heating we were unable to ‘conserve’).
You are welcome to publish this submission as it may promote some understanding of the unfairness of RCR’s and their financial impact on the 30% of consumers who rely on electricity for heating.
‘Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Residential Conservation Rates (RCR), as the block rates are also known.
I live in a 900 sq ft home which has no access to natural gas. As such I rely on FortisBC for electric heating (heat pump and baseboard heaters) as well as other electrical needs. The house had an energy assessment in 2013 and was found to be very efficient with only some weatherstripping required.
When RCR’s were introduced in mid 2012 I was very concerned that with a block 1 limit of 1600kwh’s, I would be into block 2 rates most of the year and be spending a lot more on power.
The other concern I had was those customers relying on electricity for heating have few means of conserving enough to avoid block 2 rates while those with natural gas for heating would be paying much less on average for electricity and have little financial incentive to conserve.
Essentially those using electricity for heating would be subsidizing electric rates for those with natural gas heating; basically neither would be conserving, one because they couldn’t and the other because there is little cost to not conserve.
My first concern has proven to be the case. I have looked at my consumption and billing for the 4 years prior to July 1, 2012 and the four years after July 1, 2102. Excepting the winter months, my 2 month billing is generally within 200kwh’s of the 1600 kwh limit.
The winter season costs have gone up dramatically since the RCR’s were introduced.
During the 2008-2011 period my average Nov/Dec bills were$340.63 and my average Jan/Feb bills were $335.97.
During the 2012-2016 period my average Nov/Dec bills were $518.75 and my average Jan/Feb bills were $530.62.
These figures represent increases of 52.3% and 57.9%. Kwh’s consumed during the same periods increased 6.8% and 14.8%.
In summary RCR’s have resulted in much higher electricity costs and there has been increased consumption as well i.e. no conservation.
My second original concern is also the case. My March 2016 bill excluding taxes and service charges, was $461.18 for 3598 kwh’s. This works out to $.1282/kwh compared to the block 1 cost of $.09845/kwh. I paid over 30% more per kwh than a home with natural gas heating which was able to stay on the block 1 rates.
In addition, immediately prior to July 1, 2012 the flat rate was $.09447. The block 1 rate is now $.09845. Homes with natural gas heating have seen only a 4.2% increase for most of their electric consumption. In comparison, the rate increase for my March 2016 bill was 35.7%.
The introduction of RCR’s has been grossly unfair for residents of homes with electric heating, especially for those with no access to natural gas. In these cases it has led to dramatic increases in electric costs with no meaningful way to conserve.
RCR’s have also been unfair relative to the electric costs homes with natural gas enjoy. They incur block 2 rates less often and their overall cost of electricity is much less, providing little incentive to conserve.
In summary, I don’t know how RCR’s could have been approved. My online search reveals that approximately 30% of residences in BC are heated with electricity; about 60% with natural gas. Of course, the former are higher electricity users but RCR’s are no solution. RCR’s have only led to a two tier system where the minority is unfairly penalized and subsidizes the majority.
I encourage the BCUC to terminate RCR’s.’
Mankind has learned to combine strength and flexibility by making composite materials. We put steel bars in concrete and fibreglass into plastics. But we weren’t the first to do that. A limpet is able to cling to rocks using the suction of a muscular foot and the adhesiveness of mucous. As it moves slowly along its tongue (radula) can scrape algae off the rocks to use as food. Its tongue is covered with tiny teeth made of the strongest biological material known – geothite. It uses iron oxide and hydroxide to form geothite whose fibres are 1000 times thinner than the glass fibres in fibreglass. This microscopic size helps to defy cracks or flaws in the teeth.
Professor A. Barber, in the Journal of Royal Science, Feb. 18, 2015, was moved to write this comment.
“Biology is a great source of inspiration as an engineer. These (limpet) teeth are made up of very small fibres, put together in a particular way and we should be thinking of making our own structures following the same design principles.”
As the architect of the Oct. 4 RDOS motion to intervene in the Fortis rate design application which passed unanimously I have been asked how I feel about the decision by the RDOS to not join in the intervener motion but to support the Anarchist Mountain Residents Society (AMRS) in their intervention.
In a small part, I can justify this as a win as the original goal was to see the end of the two-tier system but in another way, I have to see this as a loss as the two-tier system will still unjustly punish heat source reliant customers for another five years. Joining with the AMRS would have added more weight to the stance that the two-tier system be removed immediately and if Fortis then so desires faze in the time of use option. That fight is now left to the AMRS with (support ??) from the RDOS.
As director Mark Pendergraft has stated this is a fight that is far from over as the cost of electrical power is still going to create enormous social issues. With that in mind here are some tidbits to ponder:
Most of the problems that are being seen today are a result of the Gordon Campbell Gov’t pandering to large corporations, in this case, the Independent Power Producers (IPP). This is by no means only a B.C. problem only.
By guaranteeing a fixed return to the IPPs and forcing Public Utilities to purchase unneeded power at inflated prices a huge weight was transferred to residents. If I remember right Fortis is 9.1% guaranteed return better than any pension plan I know of but there is also the issue of how the capital investment is calculated which could artificially inflate this number I am not an expert in accounting but some auditing may be required here.
The 11.74 cents/ kWh that will be the flat rate is currently the farm flat rate and even though less than the second tier rate or 15.115 cents/ kWh is still extreme for those without alternate heat sources. As most farms are not inside an area serviced by natural gas the alternate sources not only for farms but all rural residents tend to be wood. For those of you that have been around long enough you might remember when the provincial government and what was then West Kootenay Power came door to door requesting that we change over from oil, propane, chip even gas to the much cleaner very abundant and what was to remain cheap electrical heating. It seems that ship has gone the way of the Titanic.
One other point on the flat rate of 11.74 cents / kWh. That is in today’s value, at this time Fortis is headed to the BCUC to apply for its latest round of rate increases that will no doubt be rubberstamped as uncontested. That means that at the recent speed of Fortis rate increases the flat rate in five years will likely be the same as or more than the second tier rate is now.
You might think the current first tier rate of 10.117 cents /kWh would be what the flat rate should be but that is not true it is actually subsidized down by a little over 1 cent by the second tier users. That was a revelation exposed by Cory Sinclair (Fortis spokesperson and manager of regulatory affairs) at one of the Osoyoos meetings. That means that to maintain their current rate of return (we do not know if this is above their minimum) the flat rate must be 11.74 cents /kWh. This effectively makes a mockery of Fortis claiming this to be a conservation rate as it actually encourages the frivolous use of electrical energy by Fortis’s natural gas customers enjoying a very low rate per Jewell of heating energy and a subsidized low rate for electrical energy. (I think a hot tub would be nice.) Even trying to say that this has been successful is insulting and criminal; unless you consider fixed income, lower income, seniors or any other group living wrapped in blankets, huddling in the dark, because they can’t afford the 50% increase to the second tier on their power a success. This is not conservation this is enforced poverty at the hands of a greedy corporation with no social conscience. If conservation was the true goal then the same formula would have to be applied to natural gas, also supplied by Fortis but that price is actually going down. No move toward conservation there.
This was an attempt to appease the environmental element in government at a cost to what Cory Sinclair admitted was only 5% of their customer base. It looks good on paper to those pesky environmentalists. There actually may be a basis for a class action law suit but that would take a very good legal co. and deep pockets to figure out where to point the gun. The decision came from the Campbell government as a directive to the BCUC. That being said the punitive damages alone would be enormous as a decade of this nonsense has had enormous costs for the many trapped by this. That is wistful thinking though.
Now a little bit on the price per kWh. This is set by the use of a system called the Cost of Use Analysis (COSA). The problem here is that in absence of a competitive environment or in a collusive (monopoly) environment this is established by the producer (back to that guaranteed return) which means the more you spend the more you are guaranteed to make without the normal checks and balances in place by a truly competitive environment this is rife for abuse.
I am sure Mr. Sinclair will be on me with that one but let us consider; 98% of the power generated in B.C. is hydroelectric. This is the cheapest power to produce of all current commercial methods. Once built the life span is enormous with minimal maintenance and no fuel source is needed. B.C. is far from having the most expensive electricity but is still approx. 30% more than Manitoba and 20% more than Quebec which both require more fuel base generation.
All of this is an interesting argument but with poverty and homelessness on the rise it will become even more incumbent on governments to heal in corporate profits and their own appetite for ever more cash or face a very Orwellian future. History has many examples of the end result of an ever increasing gap between the privileged haves and the have not’s. There is no longer any doubt that the middle class is rapidly being eliminated and the working poor becoming common place. Allowing unreasonable cost increases to necessities or life will likely be the tipping point.
Alternate Director RDOS area “C”
Gale promises me this is not an altered picture. She and her ‘hubbie’ driving south – saw it but it was gone. On the way back north – they stopped and got this picture. Always haunting – the ghost of the poles on “Dead man’s Hill”.
“I should let you know, that for as long as I have lived here in Oliver and have taken the drive many times to Osoyoos, this ghost until never had eyes before. On my drive to the USA, my husband pointed out to me that the ghost has eyes. As I was in the passenger seat, and heading south I did not get a good look at the ghost. I said to my husband, I have to get a picture of the ghost when we are headed back and I am clear view. After taking the photos (and I took 3), I looked at them and I could not believe my eyes- this ghost, now really had a pair of eyes. I really would like to know how or who put eyes on this “ghost”, which really is a pole with overgrown vines spreading on the wire in both directions. So, once again this photo has not been photo shopped. But, someone did put those eyes on the ghost!!
Long time Oliver residents Erwin and Trudy Weiler were recently presented with certificates acknowledging their long service to various Cancer projects. Unfortunately Trudy was unable to attend, due to illness, so Erwin accepted on her behalf. Trudy has given over thirty years of voluntary service to the Canadian Cancer Society and Erwin has been involved for over twenty. Both are members of the Order of Eastern Star, and Erwin a member of Southern Gate Masonic Lodge. The Freemasons of BC buy, maintain and drive the passenger vans which take patients to Kelowna, for treatments, five days each week. Once purchased the vans are turned over to the Canadian Cancer Society and are used solely for the purpose of transferring patients.
The large white vans with the Cancer society’s emblem of a daffodil and Masonic emblem of square and compass, can be seen daily on it’s journey, which operates from Osoyoos to Kelowna. The patients have treatments that last from 10 days to 6 weeks, depending on the type of treatment they require, so this free service is well appreciated by those who are transported. Arranging daily drivers is quite a chore and Erwin has co-ordinated the Oliver drivers since the vans were first used in this area, over twenty years ago. Erwin, centre of photo, was presented certificates by Kelowna head co-ordinator Dick Audy, 3rd from left and Chuck Guild, master of the Oliver Masonic lodge, 2nd from left. With them are other local cancer car drivers. The van drivers are usually masons but any person can volunteer to drive the vans. Anyone needing this free service will have arrangements made for them at the Kelowna Cancer Lodge, when treatments are being arranged.
Submitted by Pat Whalley