Electricity rate in Grand Forks rising again

Grand Forks' city council gave three readings to a bylaw that would increase the city's electrical rate to 98 per cent of rates charged by FortisBC for residential.

The price of electricity in Grand Forks is on its way towards another increase.

City council recently gave first, second and third reading to Bylaw 1921, which will increase the city’s electrical rate to 98 per cent of rates charged by FortisBC for residential and would be effective the fourth billing period of this year – between mid-June and mid-August.

Based on preliminary numbers provided by the city, it would charge a basic rate of $28.76 for the two-month billing period.

For commercial rates, a basic fee of $33 per two-month billing period would be charged and on top of that, $0.9908 kilowatts an hour (kWh) for the first 200,000 kW consumed and $0.0721 for subsequent kW used thereafter. It is the second time in the past few months that there has been an electrical rate hike – the city passed a similar bylaw (1916) in mid-April.

“The bill increases by 3.9 (per cent) because the Fortis bill, since May 1, has two increases, one of 2.5 per cent, which is the rate re-balance we talked about earlier in the year, that came through and was effective May 1,” explained city Chief Financial Officer Cecile Arnott.

“The 1.4 per cent increase from Fortis is effective June 1, so we have combined the two to be effective July 1 for (the City of Grand Forks), so there’s a lag for the increase.”

The rates are not set in stone, however, and could be subject to change.

“The interim rate increase of 1.4 per cent is correct, that’s Fortis’ rate increase to cover the effect of BC Hydro’s flow-through effect,” explained Alex Love, an electrical engineer and utility consultant present at a June 27 council meeting.

Love said that the reason it was an interim rate is because BC Hydro’s rate increase hadn’t been finalized yet and if it were a different number, the Fortis rates would be adjusted to compensate.

“Generally, they’ll be pretty close to bang-on there,” Love said.

The move was spurred on by a recent decision by the B.C. Utilities Commission on June 1.

The commission approved an interim 1.4 per cent rate increase to FortisBC’s electrical rates on June 1, which was brought on to accommodate the increase of power purchasing brought on by a BC Hydro -approved, eight-per-cent interim rate increase to its 2013-14 revenue requirements application.

Bylaw 1921 would have to pass final reading in an upcoming council meeting in order to actually come into effect.