Fight against two-step billing

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is pushing forward with its plan to intervene in the upcoming FortisBC rate application, to fight two-tiered electrical billing.

A discussion paper is going before the RDOS board on Jan. 4, providing multiple of options for the regional district.

RDOS staff are recommending the district get behind the existing intervention bid from the Anarchist Mountain Community Society, possibly supporting the group with more than 200 testimonials it has gathered from the community.

“The residential conservation (two-tiered) rate has been in practice for many years, has been ripped apart and studied by experts and is unlikely to be attacked successfully on a technical economic argument only,” the staff report states.

The report noted that the BC Utilities Commission was the original advocate for the system, also releasing a study earlier this year that found the majority of low-income customers were not negatively impacted.

Opponents of the system believe it punishes people without access to natural gas unfairly. 

The new NDP government, however, has left the door open to change and has announced a review of the practice.

Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson told the RDOS earlier this year he’s interested in seeing the human side of two-tiered billing, and requested “stories” from citizens about how they have been impacted.

The RDOS also has the option of retaining an energy lawyer and launching their own intervention bid parallel to the Anarchist Mountain Community Society.

If the district opts to team up with the AMCS, the group would report to the RDOS periodically but maintain control over the bid.

Representatives from FortisBC will attend meetings with the RDOS on Jan. 4.

The BCUC will likely set out the rate application process in mid-January.

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