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Interim rate increase on hydro approved by BCUC

A recent photo of Revelstoke Dam from downstream shows five installed penstocks. Generating Unit five came on line in December and added 500 megawatts of power to the BC Hydro grid — at an investment of between $230 million and $250 million.

Forget hope that the BC Hydro rate increase would be overturned, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) recently approved an interim rate increase of eight per cent, effective May 1.

For the average residential BC Hydro customer, this would amount to a bill increase of about $6 per month, albeit until the final decision comes down in the next few months.

In BC Hydro’s Revenue Requirement Application, the Crown corporation asked for an interim rate increase to offset a revenue deficiency.

BC Hydro contended that loss would have had to be recovered from its customers in the future. The result would have been an even higher rate increase in the following year.

An interim rate increase will maintain rate stability, the company declared, while deferring rate increases would unfairly benefit BC Hydro’s current ratepayers at the expense of future customers.

If the BCUC lowers the rate increase after the application process is complete, BC Hydro could provide refunds or credits to people as they did last year – depending on the direction they receive from the BCUC.

The BCUC also determined that the Revenue Requirements Application for Fiscal 2012-2014 should be suspended until the completion of the ongoing provincial government review of BC Hydro.

The review panel’s recommendations will inform an amended BC Hydro rate application to the BCUC, expected to be filed later this year.