Electricity costs could gradually dip in 2020 if the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) approves the request from BC Hydro to decrease rate prices.
The application from BC Hydro to the BCUC is based on their audited 2019 financial results, which forecasts higher-than-anticipated income through its trading subsidiary Powerex, lower-than-anticipated purchases from independent power producers (IPPs), and lower-than-anticipated debt.
“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 of 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.”
BC Hydro submitted their request on August 22, 2019, to reduce rates by 1% starting April 2020, which would offset an additional 2.7% increase in April 2021 and a 3% increase in April 2023, with a slight 0.3% decrease to net bills in April 2022.
If approved by the BCUC, the cumulative increase to electricity bills over the next five years would be 6.2%, which is 23% lower than the cumulative increase announced in February 2019 as part of Phase 1 of the B.C. Government’s review of BC Hydro.
“I am thrilled that BC Hydro is now able to apply for a rate reduction for the first time in decades,” said Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. “If approved by our independent regulator, lower rates would make life better and more affordable for British Columbians.”
From Phase 1 of the review, the B.C. Government made actions by indefinitely suspending the Standing Offer Program for IPPs and expanding the independent oversight of the BCUC into BC Hydro.
The B.C. Government began Phase 2 of the BC Hydro Review in July 2019, with the aim that BC Hydro would continue to provide customers with clean energy at competitive rates.
It’s expected that the BCUC will make their final decision on BC Hydro’s proposed rates in early 2020.