The BC Utilities Commission has just ordered that BC Hydro’s Minimum Reconnection Charge (MRC) of $125.00 plus GST be reduced to $30 on an interim basis, starting on December 1, 2015. BC Hydro had requested that the lower MRC be implemented by April 1, 2016, but we successfully argued that the MRC is unjust and unreasonable as it no longer reflects BC Hydro’s actual costs to reconnect a customer.
The Commission’s decision is important as the reduced MRC will make a significant difference to customers that are disconnected, particularly during the winter months. Paying a large and unfair MRC in addition to the arrears that led to the disconnection is a major barrier to low income customers across the province – a group that includes seniors, people with disabilities, and single-parent families.
As part of BC Hydro’s recently filed Rate Design Application, BCPIAC will also ask the Commission to direct BC Hydro implement a bill affordability program, including special terms and conditions such as more flexible arrears payment arrangements, so that electricity bills can become more affordable for low income BC Hydro residential customers. We will argue that BC Hydro needs a program to address the increasing unaffordability of electricity bills as a result of ever-increasing BC Hydro residential rates.
The Commission’s full decision on the MRC can be found here at page 6 of the Reasons for Decision.