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Hydro customers could see 9 per cent rate increase

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 | 10:53 am

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Canwest News Service

B.C. Hydro customers could see a 9.1-per-cent rate hike on their electricity bills come next month if the Crown corporation has its way.

Hydro is seeking to increase its basic rate to cover infrastructure costs while also increasing the dividend the provincial government receives from profits.

Hydro spokeswoman Susan Danard said the proposed increase will apply to “all rate customers,” including residential, business and industrial.

The one-year application for the rate increase will be submitted to the B.C. Utilities Commission today.

If approved, the interim rate will be applicable for the fiscal year, beginning April 1.

Residential ratepayers would then see an increase of 15 to 25 cents per day, for the average customer’s electrical use — or roughly $7 per week.

The latest proposed increase comes after residential ratepayers saw their bills jump 11 per cent in the last two years, and on top of the introduction of two-tiered rates last October.

Danard said the increased revenue

will go toward the costs of the province’s multimillion-dollar capital projects to maintain and upgrade aging hydroelectric infrastructure, such as the GM Shrum generating station on the Peace River and the addition of a fifth turbine in Revelstoke.

But NDP energy critic John Horgan said that consumers like “Jill and Joe Lunchbucket” should realize that aging infrastructure isn’t the only place their money is going to.

“They’re only telling you half the story,” Horgan said.

Horgan said it’s important for consumers to note that the rate hike will help the Crown corporation to accrue the increased dividend the provincial government is requesting from Hydro operations — $150 million each year for the next three consecutive years — after dropping its budget yesterday.

“It’s not going to aging infrastructure, it’s going to the government,” Horgan said.

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