Lawyers representing BC Hydro customers have criticized a decision by the BC Utilities Commission approving two-tiered rates for household electricity. Under the approved scheme, the price of residential electricity jumps to a higher rate once consumption passes a defined threshold, each 2-month billing period.

“This decision will inflict needless pain on BC families already facing huge Hydro increases over the coming years,” said Vancouver lawyer Jim Quail, Executive Director of the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre. “BC Hydro is already seeking an increase of about 20% covering this year and next. This decision will mean that households who rely on electricity to heat their homes and water will see even larger increases.”

Quail noted that BC Hydro’s justification for the “block rates” is to encourage energy conservation.

“It’s like slapping a deterrent tax on top of gasoline that already sells for $1.40 a litre,” said Quail. “The price of household energy is rising enough by itself to make people look for ways to cut back. All this does is to sharpen the pain for some of those least able to afford it.”

Quail noted that Hydro rates are rising much faster than the rate of inflation, leaving fixed incomes like pensions far behind, at a time when the minimum wage has been flat for years.

“This is an insensitive decision that will cause needless hardship for thousands of households across the province,” said Quail, who said that he and his legal team are waiting for the Commission’s detailed reasons to determine the feasibility of an appeal to the Courts.

For more information please contact Jim Quail at 604-687-3063