Low income residential ratepayers’ groups apply to intervene in Site C legal cases

For Immediate Release | BCPIAC

Vancouver, BC – Groups representing the interests of low and fixed income residential ratepayers have just applied to the Federal Court to intervene in support of the Peace Valley Landowner Association (PVLA) challenge to the federal approval of BC Hydro’s Site C Dam Project. The groups also plan to apply for intervenor status in the PVLA’s BC Supreme Court challenge against the provincial approval of the Project.

Active Support Against Poverty, BC Old Age Pensioners’ Organization, Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of BC, Disability Alliance BC and Together Against Poverty Society are represented by lawyers with the BC Public Interest Advocacy Center (BCPIAC), and if granted intervenor status, will highlight the perspective of BC Hydro ratepayers who are having difficulty paying their electricity bills amidst rising electricity rates.

We’ll focus on the need for a thorough review by the BCUC of the need for and cost of the Site C Project

“We’ll focus on the need for a thorough review by the BCUC of the need for and cost of the Site C Project, as recommended by the federal/provincial Joint Review Panel, to ensure that low-income people, including seniors and people with disabilities, aren’t required to pay unnecessary costs for electricity service,” said Sarah Khan, a lawyer with BCPIAC who is representing the groups.

Over the past decade, BC Hydro residential rates have increased by more than 41%, and will rise another 6% on April 1, 2015, for a total increase of 47% over 11 years.  BC Hydro’s rates could increase by another 10.5% between 2016 and 2018. These increases have not been matched by corresponding increases in BC’s welfare rates or minimum wage.

Gudrun Langolf, Vice President of the Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of BC said that “Between 15 – 20% of BC Hydro’s residential customers are low-income.  Since the Site C Project is currently estimated to cost $8.775 billion, we want to ensure that people who can least afford further rate increases aren’t left paying the bill for a project that hasn’t had a thorough economic review”.

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BC Utilities Commission releases decision on fees for BC Hydro smart meter opt-out program

The BC Utilities Commission released a decision on April 25, 2014 about the fees BC Hydro will be allowed to charge its residential customers under the Meter Choices Program who choose not to have a smart meter installed at their home.

BC Hydro originally planned to install smart meters at every residential customer’s home. In July 2013, following significant opposition by customers, the provincial government directed BC Hydro to provide an opt-out program (with associated charges), available only to those customers who did not already have a smart meter.

Read more about the smart meter opt-out program.