To: MLA Linda Larson
From: James B. McGinnigle, Oliver BC
Four years ago when you applied for the job as our MLA you were (as were all other candidates) outraged at the high cost of electricity from Fortis BC. For a while you made mention of your efforts in your publications to the constituents of Boundry-Similkameen. Of late there has been little news.
I cannot for the life of me understand why this punitive two tiered billing system is being continued. I have for four years complained to you, to the BC Utilities Commission and to the people through the newspapers about how unfair this billing practice is to people with electric heat. This system was forced upon the electric utility by the BC Utilities Commission who received their instructions from your Government. During the initial hearings to establish this reverse Robin Hood billing plan which steals from electric heat customers and gives rewards of lower electric bills to those with gas heat (a lower rate at my expense). Fortis told the Commission that this change would be devastating to electric heat customers. No one at the Utilities Commission listened because they had their marching orders from your Government. Electric heat customers were just collateral damage to their plan.
Should we take out our anger and frustration on Fortis BC.? No we should not. This policy was ordered to be implemented by your Liberal Government (Gordon Campbell was Premier). To this day your Government continues to defend this unfair billing system.
If your Government did not wish people to use electricity for home space heating all they had to do was change the building codes to ban the use of electricity for space heating. This has not been done. In fact the concept of heating electrically was promoted with rebates and allowances to install heat pumps. So now all of the folks that do not have access to gas are now stuck with a heating system that has become so expensive during the heating season that electric heat users must take drastic actions to find enough money to pay the electric bill or freeze in the dark.
If one wanted to be cynical, it could be concluded that the poor, the elderly and the in firmed could just freeze in the dark, thereby reducing the surplus population with the resulting savings to to the B.C. Treasury. Remember Dickens’ Scrooge? I don’t believe this but one gets the feeling of abuse. I canguarantee you that poorly heated homes result in illness which can and will impact upon medical costs to the Province.
My latest Fortis electric bill was for $ 279.59 for Jan. 4th through to March 6th 2017.One could say what are you complaining about? This is a reasonable cost especially considering the very harsh winter. I ask you to bear with me here. For this sum I was able to keep my house at 16.3 C for January and 15 C in February. I ran out of Tier 1 rates on February 13th 2017 which meant that the 20 days left in the billing period were all at 15.617 cents for every kWh used. If we had dared to keep the house at 20 C during the day and 17 C at night our cost would be approximately double that which we actually paid.
I have installed a high efficiency heat pump, energy saving appliances, energy efficient lighting, a timer on my hot water tank (it runs only 8 hours per day), energy saving window coverings, insulated our heating/cooling duct work, installed solar film for summer heat reduction and we practice preventing energy waste by not having any electrical item left on when not in use. We seldom use the electric oven and select foods that we can cook using the less costly microwave. Our house has an energy efficiency rating of 82.7 out of a possible 83 points for a home of this vintage. We can do nothing more except
pay the inflated rates or freeze in the dark.
1. In 2016 Fortis Electric would have charged 11.4 cents per kWh on a flat rate billing system. We paid 12.827 cents per kWh (all costs). Considerably above the providers costs. My extra payment went to subsidize gas heat customers’ electric bills.
2. 100% of the 2016 Tier 2 billing was in the winter heating / billing period.
3. In 2015 we paid 12.319 cents per kWh.
4. In 2014 we paid 12.077 cents per kWh.
5. In 2013 we paid 11.755 cents per kWh.
Your Government likes to say that electric consumption has declined under the tiered pricing. You are mistaken in this believe. It is the ever higher prices that have impacted the consumers’ consumption. Once again I must protest this unfair pricing method. No other heating fuel in B.C. is priced on a tiered system. In fact with some fuel choices a discount can be had for higher volume use. Perhaps Premier Clark should conceive expanding the availability of natural gas to rural areas instead of trying to export our gas to Asia. You have eager future gas customers right here in British Columbia!
I do not want something for nothing. I already pay above the cost of production. All I ask is a flat rate
(fair to all) or at the very least a different winter rate structure for electric heat users. I can live with the
two tiered system for the summer season as gas does not help those who use air conditioning. It is the only time of the year where all users are on a level playing ground.
I have only been motivated twice to join a movement protesting a policy. The first was the HST debacle where the Premier of a Province out and out lied to the electorate about this tax. Thank goodness for Mr. Wm. Vander Zalm and all the rest of the protesters. The other motivation is this punitive tiered electric billing scheme. My final option now, is to not vote for any Government or party which refuses to correct this unfair billing practice. Therefore I will not support your reelection and neither will I vote for the NDP party who also is not listening to therural electric customers who do not have access to natural gas and who are penalized for wanting heat in their homes at a fair price with an environmentally clean product. I urge all other voters to exercise
their franchise and vote to get through to these parties.
I suggest to everyone who can, to switch to a fuel source which is priced fairly although these options
have detrimental environmental consequences. I am tired of freezing in the dark. Your Government does not offer tax subsides for solar installations and obviously supports the use of polluting fuels over clean options. Keep your family’s warm and forget the climate considerations. Leave that to the genius pool in Victoria.
I am sure that the Liberal Government knows that there are more voters who heat with gas than there are those who depend upon electricity for their space heating. However look at the British Brexit vote and the American election of Donald Trump. Neither was expected. Remember Mr. Obama’s message of “Yes we can. “. We who oppose two tiered billing structures are not going away and will not give up fighting for what is fair.