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B.C. Hydro

Read newspaper articles and other info about B.C. Hydro here on okanaganlakebc.ca below.

Make a comment about B.C. Hydro using the form near the bottom of the page.

LAST UPDATE August 03, 2016

Click on your refresh button in the top menu, to be sure you see any updates.

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BC Hydro's Electric Tariff (Rate Schedules and Tariff Supplements)

BC Clean Energy Act states that smart meters are to be functioning at the end of 2012

BC Clean Energy Regulation

Clean Energy Act
SMART METERS AND SMART GRID REGULATION
Note: Check the Cumulative Regulation Bulletin 2014
for any non-consolidated amendments to this regulation that may be in effect.
[includes amendments up to B.C. Reg. 405/2012, December 27, 2012]

Energy Efficiency Act

B.C. Reg. 203/2013
O.C. 391/2013 Deposited September 25, 2013

Utilities Commission Act
DIRECTION NO. 4 TO THE BRITISH COLUMBIA UTILITIES COMMISSION

Note: Check the Cumulative Regulation Bulletin 2014
for any non-consolidated amendments to this regulation that may be in effect.

REVIEW OF BC HYDRO June 2011

Smart Metering Information
Find out why Smart Meter installations are an important upgrade to our electricity system.

BC's Electricity Trading (BC Stats)

BRITISH COLUMBIA HYDRO AND POWER AUTHORITY
APPLICATION FOR APPROVAL OF CHARGES
RELATED TO THE METER CHOICES PROGRAM DECISION
April 25, 2014

BC Hydro Application to Amend Rate Schedule 1289 for Net Metering Service - Decision
July 25, 2014

Designated Agreements between BC Hydro and Power Authority and BCUC (orders in council)
Order in Council 1083 - Key Agreements
Order in Council 1084 - Special Direction TC-1 to British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority
Order in Council 1085 - Employee Transfer from BC Hydro to BC Transmission Corp
Order in Council 1107 - Special Direction to the BC Utilities Commission

Thompson-Okanagan-Columbia Community Relations Annual Report 2014

BC Hydro’s F2015-F2016 Revenue Requirements Application was filed with the Commission on March 7, 2014.
 

Additional information about BC Hydro’s residential rates is available on the company’s website

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Sound Cloud - BC Government Audio clips about BC Hydro Review (Sept 9, 2011)

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Click this link to learn how you can refuse to have a smart meter installed.

LETTER OF NON-CONSENT FOR SMART METER

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2013 Letters of Comment to BCUC in regards to Smart Meters vs Analogue Meters.

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If you need help with your BC Hydro Bill

The BC Ombudsman may be able to help you

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B.C. Court of Appeal Judgment re Hydro's Smart Meter Program

Andrea Collins and The Citizens For Safe Technology Society, Appellants (and British Columbia Utilities Commission and British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority)

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BC Hydro Pest Management Plan 2016 - 2021

BC Hydro Pest Management Plan 2016 - 2021
click image for a larger copy

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Power outage hits north end of Okanagan Lake
Infotel - August 02, 2016

OKANAGAN - B.C. Hydro is reporting a power outage affecting a wide swath of a sparsely populated part of Okanagan Lake north of Kelowna, including parts of Lake Country.

The power company through its outage map is reporting a power interuption which began at 1:24 p.m., Aug. 2, affecting 1,782 customers.

Crews are enroute to fix the problem, the company reports, estimating their arrival at 2:30 p.m. although it doesn’t say exactly where they are headed.

The web page describes the outage as south of Northern View Drive and north of Westside Road.

The outage map shows the affected area primarily along Westside Road but also along the east side of the lake at Okanagan Centre and Carrs Landing in Lake Country.

More to come.

Source: http://infotel.ca/newsitem/power-outage-hits-north-end-of-okanagan-lake/it33265

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BC Hydro applies to raise rates by four per cent
by Staff Writer - Kelowna Capital News - BC Local News - Feb 26, 2016

BC Hydro said the temporary hike would be mean about an extra four dollars a month per customer. — Image Credit: BC Hydro Files

BC Hydro applied Friday for an electricity rate increase of four per cent, starting April 1.

The utility said that would mean an extra four dollars a month for the average residential customer.

CEO Jessica McDonald said staff applied to the B.C. Utilities Commission to hike the rate for the next fiscal year because they need more time to update their forecasts in light of “recent events in the mining and LNG sectors.”

BC Hydro had planned to make a three-year rate application using government-mandated rate caps of four per cent this year, 3.5 per cent next year and three per cent in the following year.

McDonald said the next two years will still be within the government-directed caps, part of a 10-year rate plan that will turn the setting of rates back to the BCUC by 2020.

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett recently announced a deferral program for mines, allowing them to put off paying their electricity bills to keep operating with low prices for metals and coal.

BC Hydro said it expects to continue to see an overall increase in demand for the next couple of decades.

Source: http://www.kelownacapnews.com/news/370315441.html

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B.C. Hydro must remove more than 88,000 smart meters
BY BOB MACKIN, SPECIAL TO THE PROVINCE JANUARY 19, 2016

Liz Walker points out the analog meter still in operation at her Surrey home.

B.C. Hydro needs to remove more than 88,000 smart meters that are either faulty or may not meet Measurement Canada standards, public records show.

On top of that, the Crown corporation wants to replace 8,200 old analog meters and introduce nearly 5,000 new meters that work in rural areas that have poor wireless connections.

The total bill will be at least $20 million.

Despite this information — contained in a request for proposals to supply the new meters — B.C. Hydro’s vice-president of customer service Keith Anderson said he’s “confident” most of the province’s 1.9 million smart meters will last 20 years.

“We’re pretty confident at this point we’ll get the life expectancy we wanted and expected,” Anderson said.

B.C. Hydro estimates that by 2019 it will need to remove 40,000 faulty or failed meters, and another 48,000 meters for testing to see whether they still meet Measurement Canada’s accuracy standards. Hydro says those meters found to meet standards will be put back into its inventory.

The call for bidders closed Jan. 14.

New meters cost $200 each, including installation. Anderson said he was unable to release the budget for the replacement project and could not comment on the length of warranty for smart meters from supplier Itron.

“That’s commercially sensitive to Itron,” Anderson told The Province. “It’s something that we negotiated out past their regular warranty provisions.”

Under its old analog system, B.C. Hydro exchanged about 40,000 meters per year.

Doubts have been raised elsewhere in North America about the lifespan of smart meters. The 2014 annual report by the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario said “distribution companies we consulted said the 15-year estimate is overly optimistic,” compared to 40 years for an analog meter.

The report said smart meters are like other types of information technology: subject to upgrades, short warranties and malfunctions. Moreover, they will likely be obsolete by the time they are re-verified every six-to-10 years by Measurement Canada.

Last October, the chief information officer for Ohio-based FirstEnergy told a U.S. Congress subcommittee on power system security that the lifespan is five to seven years.

“These devices are now computers, and so they have to be maintained,” Bennett Gaines testified.

Anderson said he was not familiar enough to comment on either the Ontario report or that testimony, but said B.C. Hydro’s units are more advanced.

NDP critic Adrian Dix doubts both the 20-year life estimate and planned 20-year amortization period in the 2011 business plan. The project was budgeted at $930 million.

Dix said the number of failures would “presumably continue to go up as the smart meters get older.”

“Would you amortize your TV over 20 years? Would you amortize your cellphone over 20 years?” Dix said. “I don’t think you would. This is what B.C. Hydro has done or been ordered to do by the government.”

The tendering documents also show that the Crown corporation wants to replace 4,180 units by the end of March with ones that are cellular compatible. Those non-communicating units removed from rural areas and behind concrete walls will be returned to Hydro’s inventory, Anderson said.

Health concerns motivate holdout

Liz Walker finds herself among a dwindling group of B.C. Hydro customers who refuse to convert from an analog meter to a smart meter.

“A lot of people folded because they couldn’t afford the legacy fees and they’ve been railroaded to accepting smart meters,” said Walker.

She pays $32.40 a month for her analog meter to be read manually at her house in Surrey and a property she inherited in Peachland.

B.C. Hydro installed 1.9 million smart meters from 2011 to 2013, but backed away in July 2013 from imposing smart meters on 68,000 holdouts.

Keith Anderson, Hydro’s vice-president of customer service, said there now are fewer than 14,000 customers paying extra to keep analog meters or use smart meters with the radios switched off.

A B.C. Hydro tender call seeking installation companies forecasts 8,200 “legacy-to-smart” exchanges in the next four years.

Walker said her original 1968 analog meter was replaced last summer with another analog one after the accuracy seal expired.

Walker, who said she worked as a chemical technician at B.C. Hydro’s Powertech Labs for 10 years until 1990, is concerned about health risks of radio frequency electromagnetic fields.

She said Hydro tried to convince her that the stucco walls at her Surrey house would reduce exposure levels. The problem was, Walker said, “my meter would end up behind that stucco wall” and too close for comfort to her son’s room.

In 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

A 2011 Health Canada document, however, says that exposure from smart meters does not pose a public health risk: “Survey results have shown that smart meters transmit data in short bursts, and when not transmitting data, the smart meter does not emit RF energy.”

Walker is hoping a B.C. Supreme Court class action lawsuit against B.C. Hydro gets a green light from the courts. Justice Elaine Adair reserved her decision Dec. 11. Smart meter foes want refunds and the choice to return smart meters for analog units.

“I don’t think, financially, the province can afford this program, especially if we’re going to replace smart meters within a decade,” Walker said.

— Bob Mackin

Source: http://www.theprovince.com/touch/story.html?id=11660282

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February 6, 2015 Freedom of Information Request explains that there are 46,403 BC Hydro SMART METERS still being read manually at Dec 22, 2014.

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Mayor seeks bypass route
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore | Story: 148056 - Sep 18, 2015

The City of West Kelowna hopes to get some answers on a wide range of topics at next week's Union of BC Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

Mayor Doug Findlater said the city has scheduled meetings with ministers of energy, transportation and health, as well as local MLA, Premier Christy Clark.

The biggest issue for Findlater is transportation – specifically, a corridor to a proposed second lake crossing.

"We want to ensure a second corridor is studied and presented as an option," said Findlater in advance of the convention, which kicks off Monday.

"It may not be viable, but we want to ensure it's not just another bridge that pours traffic on existing 97 and build a bunch of interchanges."

While Findlater doesn't have a specific route in mind, he did say he sees a route going around the community with connections to the city.

The Westbank couplet will also be part of the discussion.

"That continues to be the biggest bottleneck between Kelowna and Penticton. That continues to be an issue."

Also at the top of the list is a resolution by the city asking the province to allocate more funds for wildfire mitigation.

"It seems the premier has suggested we have a new normal with long, hot, fiery summers. One way to deal with that is to make sure wildfires coming in can be slowed down.

"We have another issue about fires, and that's a second exit out of Glenrosa. In the meantime, we have a viable summertime exit with Jackpine Lake Road, when it's serviced."

Findlater said when a portion of Westside Road washed into the lake in 2006, Jackpine was graded and became a viable route.

He hopes to speak with Emergency Preparedness Minister Naomi Yamamoto concerning outstanding financial issues from last year's Smith Creek fire.

Findlater also hopes to meet with Energy Minister Bill Bennett to get an update on the BC Hydro transmission line project.

"And, given the amount of power outages on the Westside, we have a second issue with BC Hydro. That is: what is their assessment of the basic distribution infrastructure, and do they have a plan to renew that?" said Findlater.

"We want them to look at an asset management plan for the distribution system."

The mayor also hopes to speak with a deputy within the health ministry to talk about expanded services in West Kelowna.

Findlater will be accompanied by all six councillors.

The UBCM convention runs all next week at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Source: http://www.castanet.net/news/West-Kelowna/148056/Mayor-seeks-bypass-route

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BEYOND THE HEADLINES Good, but not great
by Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - Sep 9, 2015

Last week, the provincial government issued a release bragging about how it’s entrenched on the front lines in the war against zebra and quagga mussels.

According to the release, more than 3,200 boats have been inspected since May, keeping B.C. safe from the invasive creatures.

“Our co-ordinated and ongoing efforts are making a real difference keeping invasive mussels out of B.C.,” said Mary Polak, environment minister.

“We have risen to the challenge, and are continuing to develop a sustainable mussel prevention program by building capacity, experience and additional partnerships.”

The government’s invasive mussel defence program includes six mobile decontamination units and 12 auxiliary conservation officers.

Financing consists of $1.3 million from Victoria and B.C. Hydro and $360,000 from the Columbia Basin Trust.

This all sounds great, but it’s not enough, according to the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

“We’d like to see permanent decontamination sites at the borders,” said Juliette Cunningham, an OBWB director and Vernon city councillor.

“There is an opportunity for some boats to get through. We don’t have a level of comfort that all is being done that could be done.”

And depending on mobile inspection stations means the B.C. border is like holes in Swiss cheese. If the six decontamination units are busy, who is minding the store at the other crossings along Alberta, the U.S. and the north?

The government’s back-slapping over its mussel response came at the same time that OBWB heard from Julia Lew, with the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Since the arrival of quagga mussels in 2007, SNWA has struggled to keep them from clogging water intakes and undermining water treatment infrastructure.

“Whereas we haven’t seen some of the effects other jurisdictions have with the mussels, we’ve had others not seen elsewhere,” said Lew.

“For example, in many areas where the mussels exist there is one reproductive cycle per year and one female can produce a million eggs. But the warm water temperatures in Lake Mead is resulting in six to eight reproductive cycles per year.”

Another issue for SNWA is the $8 million price tag to chemically pre-treat a new intake, which is needed because of declining water levels in Lake Mead.

Lew is urging B.C. and Okanagan officials not to sit back and wait for the mussels to show up on a contaminated boat.

“If we could go back in time, prevention would have been the way to go. I know some think prevention is costly, but the moment you don’t have it, and the mussels get in, it’s devastating. The costs once they arrive are far worse,” she said.

Cunningham sees Nevada’s experience as a wake up call for the Okanagan, particularly because warm temperatures in Kalamalka and Wood lakes could prove ideal for breeding mussels.

“It’s quite alarming the measures that need to be taken and the cost involved,” she said.

In the government release, Forests Minister Steve Thomson says, “Invasive mussels pose a threat to more than just ecosystems, but to drinking water facilities, hydro stations, agricultural irrigation and more. While we continue to see great success stories this summer, we all need to do our part to keep invasive quagga and zebra mussels out of B.C. waters.”

And while all residents play a role in preventing the spread of mussels, the provincial government needs to do the heavy lifting.

Source: http://www.vernonmorningstar.com/opinion/325756231.html

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Stop sought to smart meters
Castanet.net - by Jon Manchester | Story: 141138 - Jun 1, 2015

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is seeking a halt to installation of smart meters and removal of those already in place.

Regional directors voted this past week to petition Premier Christy Clark, Minister of Health Terry Lake and Chief Medical Health Officer for B.C. Dr. Perry Kendall stop installation of meters it claims are dangerous.

The resolution, signed by RDOS chair Mark Pendergraft, asks the province to acknowledge: "the real and rapidly increasing dangers of wireless radiation in all forms; and that the current exposure guidelines, i.e. Health Canada’s Safety Code 6, are outdated and inappropriate, and do not adequately protect citizens from serious chronic health effects."

The board members, including former federal cabinet minister Tom Siddon, say Itron meters already installed in RDOS Area D are neither UL approved nor CSA certified and, therefore, by the B.C. Safety Standards Act must be certified safe by a professional electrical engineer licensed to work in B.C.

The resolution adds: "Fortis refuses to provide this document, raising doubt that installations are legal, or that liability is accepted by either FortisBC or Corix." Corix Utilities is the company contracted to install the meters across the province.

It requests an immediate halt to mandatory installation of advanced (wireless) utility meters and that all meters recently installed be removed immediately, at full cost to FortisBC.

Siddon, a former professor of mechanical engineering at the University of British Columbia, authored the resolution in consultation with Dr. Malcolm Paterson, PhD, an internationally known cancer researcher who has campaigned against the proliferation of wireless technology, including smart meters.

The resolution is dated may 25 and calls for a moratorium on the controversial smart meters.

it notes that more than 60 municipalities, regional districts and First Nation governments in B.C. have now called for a moratorium until an opt-out option is made available.

It notes that the meters are being installed without written consent from affected property owners and that the Heritage Hills/Lakeshore Highlands Resident’s Association unanimously adopted a motion in December requesting the RDOS oppose installation of them.

A petition circulating in the South Okanagan opposing the meters currently has more than 230 signatures and urges the RDOS to decline approval their installation until safety and human health risks have been disproven.

On May 7, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published a scathing condemnation of Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 guidelines for non-ionizing radiation from wireless devices, warning that microwave levels allowed in Canadian classrooms, residences and workplaces constitute a “disaster to public health."

The resolution ask the province "to acknowledge the real and rapidly increasing dangers of wireless radiation" and says current guidelines "do not adequately protect citizens of RDOS."

Source: castanet.net/news/BC/141138/Stop-sought-to-smart-meters

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.pdf icon January 26, 2015 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

5. CORRESPONDENCE

5.1 District of West Kelowna re: Single Radial Electrical Line from Merritt to West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, Peachland, Regional District of Central Okanagan Electoral Area West, Penticton Indian Band and RDOS Electoral Area F (for information) (All Directors - Unweighted Vote)

District of West Kelowna's letter of October 21, 2014 outlined a request for support of a petition to BC Hydro to commit to providing an alternate, secondary electrical transmission line to service this growing region. West Kelowna is
requesting support for their efforts to have BC Hydro commit to providing an alternate secondary electrical transmission line to service this growing region.

BAKER/BASRAN
THAT the Regional Board receive for information the letter from the District of West Kelowna regarding the Single Radial Electrical Line from Merritt to West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation, Peachland, Regional District of Central Okanagan Electoral Area West, Penticton Indian Band and RDOS Electoral Area F;
AND FURTHER THAT the Regional Board supports the initiative of the District of West Kelowna to work with BC Hydro to commit to providing an alternate secondary electrical transmission line to service this growing region.

CARRIED Unanimously

-------------------------------

.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio January 26, 2014 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 ( MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files January 26, 2015 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.1 District Of West Kelowna Single Radial Electrical Line - .wma (3.30 MB)

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Smart meter radio turn off
Castanet.net - by Contributed | Story: 134241 - Mar 3, 2015

Dear Fortis,

Thank you for the recent notice in the mail that you will be installing a smart meter on my home. When I called to make sure mine has the radio turned off your representative asked me why and I replied, "Seeing as an entire Province just recalled every smart meter because they were exploding on homes it seemed like common sense." Your representative's convincing argument of, "that was a different company" was so touching and so convincing that I almost put the lives of my children in your hands and took your word for it. But I decided to have the radio turned off anyway.

I was told that there was an 88$ fee to have the radio button turned off. My question is, are you hiring any button pushers at the moment? For $88 a pop to push a button, I can only assume that these button pushers are being paid extremely well. I assure you, I have excellent button pushing skills and could push hundreds of them in an hour. Let's say I push 200 buttons an hour. At $88 a piece, that's $17,600 I could make for you in one hour! Even if I could get a small piece of that, the extra income would go a long way towards paying the recent $600 electricity bill I received.

So please, I beg you, consider me for your radio button pushing position. I have small kids, a small house and an exorbitant electricity bill. I could use all the help I can get.

Sincerely,
Micha Pesta

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Hydro project backed
by Staff Writer - Vernon Morning Star - Dec 19, 2014

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce supports the provincial government’s decision to approve Site C.

B.C. Hydro will be allowed to construct a third dam on the Peace River in northeastern B.C. to generate electricity.

“B.C.’s economy has been built on reliable, low-cost power and while this was a difficult decision it is a significant one that will result in clean and renewable power for generations,” said Jaron Chasca, chamber president.

“By committing to building Site C, the government is investing in continued access to the energy we need to take B.C. forward.”

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce has promoted the project so the province continues to have a competitive business advantage.

“Reliable, affordable power allows our businesses to compete nationally and globally and to create jobs right here in B.C.” said John Winter, B.C. Chamber of Commerce president.

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This just pisses us off, that we have to help support the people who can afford to upgrade their homes?  Why do the poor people have to help pay for this!!!!  Unreal!!!



found this in the envelope with our August 13, 2014 - October 10, 2014 BC Hydro bill

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Through a Freedom of Information request to BC Hydro, Sharon Nobel (of Coalition to Stop Smart Meters), says, as of January 1, 2014 66,587 smart meters were being read manually. As of September 1, 2014 45,457 smart meters still are being read manually – for no additional fee.

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Meter dismay
Prince George Citizen - January 21, 2015

I just recently had some interesting telephone conversations with a couple of BC Hydro customer agents, that I would like to share.

First, a bit of background regarding my situation. We live on a 150 acre property just south of Hixon on Highway 97, which runs right through the property - I have land both sides of the highway. The house is set back some 400 metres from the highway and the property entrance has a gate (to keep animals from going onto the highway and to act as a deterrent to unwanted visitors). There is a chain that is looped over the gate to keep it closed but it is not locked at all.

These last few years I have had a large number of my electricity bills being "estimates" because no one had visited the property to take meter readings. Initially I resisted the installation of the "Smart Meter", but later on agreed to have them installed (two meters).

As a result of these so-called estimates of electricity consumption, my bills are always higher than they should be. I have had estimates that were 30 per cent more than normal consumption, which result in high bills and cost. I believe it is no accident that these estimated bills are always more than historical consumption. I do have all of my electricity bills for the ten years of living at this address and can show the inflated estimates.

I telephoned BC Hydro regarding the excessive electricity bill charges (being much too frequent) and gave them the meter reading for the latest billing cut off date. I read my meters daily because of the frequent inaccuracies regarding meter readings and billing. Some general discussion and a few pointed questions followed. It appears BC Hydro keep a file on all of their customers and keep adding information to it, but will not share this file with the customers. I find this situation to be quite interesting and suspicious.

I questioned why my meter was not being read and why there were numerous excessive estimates. I was told that on two occasions there was a record of no access to the property. I asked again why my meters where not being read I do have two "Smart Meters" installed but they are not connected to the WiFi network. I was told to telephone BC Hydro and ask to be connected to the automated wifi system . Still no answer to the question of why my meters are not being read.

After some thirty minutes of waiting and questions I said that I felt that someone was not doing their job properly, lying or both and that BC Hydro should do better than try to blame their customers.

The next day I received a telephone call from another BC Hydro agent regarding my situation. I was told that meter readers are still being employed to read meters. I was also told that BC Hydro does not enter into any written communication with their customers and any problems would be addressed using the telephone. I then informed that agent that any further telephone conversations with BC Hydro would now be recorded so that I would have proof of what had been said. Of course there was no answer to my comment regarding recording telephone conversations.

During the conversation with the second agent, comments were made regarding the gate at the entrance to the property. In a nutshell, I was basically told to leave the gate to my property open, regardless of the potential for animals to wander onto the highway causing accidents and the risk of unwanted visitors (remember we are on a busy major highway). I kept repeating that we keep the gate shut for safety and security reasons and that the gate was not locked. I then thanked the agent for calling me and said that the conversation was most enlightening and then put the telephone down whilst the agent was still talking as I was not getting nowhere.

What I have learned from these two agents is that BC Hydro "meter readers" do not want to have to open gates to enter a property - too much effort I guess. This is not a reasonable request for rural property owners who often have large animals etc. and long distances from the house to the gate.

Safety and security come first before convenience and for my situation the gate will remain closed, but unlocked. BC Hydro will be welcome to visit and read the meter, but please close the gate on the way out, when you leave.

I assume, that in the meantime BC Hydro will continue with the inflated electricity bill "guesstimates" due to meter reader behaviour.

In conclusion, I am beginning to think that the BC Hydro customer is being held to ransom by BC Hydro not dealing properly with customer complaints, erroneously read electricity meters and incorrect meter readings being entered into customer account data.

How does one begin to sort out the horrible mess that BC Hydro has become?

John Wood
Hixon

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INFO BULLETIN

Apr 25, 2014
British Columbia Utilities Commission approves Meter Choices Fees

VANCOUVER: The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) has approved the Meter Choices fees that will apply to customers who choose to retain an old meter or a radio-off meter. BC Hydro filed an application last fall to recover fees to offset the expense of providing meter options to eligible customers.

The BCUC determined the cost for customers who have retained an old meter will be $32.40 per month while the cost for customers who chose a radio-off meter will be $20 per month.

The set up cost for a radio-off meter will be $22.60 with an exit fee of $55.00 for an overall fee of about $77. As some of the final fees differ from the interim rate, BC Hydro will adjust customers’ bills accordingly.

The fees to retain an old meter came into effect Dec. 2, 2013 and the fees for a radio-off meter were effective as of Apr. 1, 2014.

Last summer, the Province of B.C. announced three choices for eligible residential customers who did not have a smart meter installed:

a standard smart meter at no cost;
a radio-off meter for a $100 set-up fee and $20 monthly fee; and
keeping an old meter for a $35 monthly fee as long as stock lasts.
The BCUC’s role was to independently review the fees.

Approximately 68,000 or three per cent of customers had the option of making a choice as part of the Meter Choices Program. Of these customers to date:

about 49,000 customers elected to take a smart meter;
460 customers requested a radio-off meter; and
fewer than 19,000 customers are keeping an old meter.

The fees to retain an old meter or choose a radio-off meter ensure that the vast majority of customers who accepted a smart meter are not subsidizing the choices of a very small number of customers.

Modernizing the electricity grid with smart meters plays a crucial role in BC Hydro’s plan to provide a secure and reliable power system for customers all over the province. Once complete, a modernized grid will help BC Hydro improve its management of the electricity system, lower costs, reduce theft, encourage conservation and automatically detect outages.

Examples of benefits already being provided by the modernized grid include:

97 per cent of customers with smart meters are now receiving automated bills.
Over 90 per cent of customers with smart meters can view their detailed energy use through their secure online MyHydro account – helping them to save energy and money.
2,100 pre-existing unsafe meter socket conditions on customers’ homes were repaired by a certified electrician at no cost to the homeowner.

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Smart meter installation to begin
Kelowna Daily Courier - November 27, 2014

Fortis will begin installing smart meters in Kelowna homes next week.

Installation of the new meters will start in Joe Rich, Black Mountain and parts of Rutland.

In a news release, Fortis said customers will see its crews and installers from Corix Utilities in their neighbourhoods in the coming weeks and months, as the meter exchanges continue in Kelowna through the first few months of 2015.

Meter installers will carry identification and be easily identifiable as FortisBC contractors.

Fortis will notify customers by mail a few weeks before the electricity meter is to be exchanged at a property.

Fortis has been installing meters in the Trail-Salmo area since September.

"Once the project is complete in late 2015, the new meters will open the door to benefits our customers are asking for, like fewer bill estimates, up-to-date electricity use information, and a more efficient response to power outages," says Fortis.
Smart meters are controversial with many critics claiming they emit dangerous electromagnetic radiation.

Some jurisdictions have removed smart meters or stopped their installation programs after fires were reported in the units.
BC Hydro has already installed the units across the province.

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Polish Town Gets 100% Renewable Electricity
cleantechnica.com - September 18th, 2014 by Cynthia Shahan

The Polish government's love of coal hasn't stopped Kisielice taking a different path. This town easily generates enough clean energy for its 2,000 residents, (with plenty left over!) thanks to 50 wind turbines and a large biomass boiler.

The Polish town of Kisielice has received the European Commission’s ManagEnergy Award 2014 for its clean energy leadership. It is 100% powered by renewable energy (wind and biomass, to be specific). The prize is to award outstanding local and regional sustainable energy projects. Kisielice’s submission was titled, “Energy self-sufficient Commune of Kisielice.”

Mayor Tomasz Koprowiak of the small community in the province of Warmia-Mazury received this thanks for his work with the town to reduce emissions, abandon dependence on coal, and improve air quality. This is quite an anomaly in Poland, which gets over 90% of its electricity from coal.

“We have a strategy for our community to develop in this way, to become energy self-sufficient. This European Commission’s Award confirms that we have taken the right path,” said Mayor Koprowiak.

The abundance of agricultural land makes it possible to place a lot of wind turbines on the farmland. Over 50 wind turbines with a total capacity of 94.5 MW have been installed their. “Wind turbines are especially good at fitting onto a farm without hindering its output. In fact, in some cases, the wind turbines can improve yields,” Sustainnovate notes.

There’s also a 6-megawatt biomass boiler in Kisielice to supplement the wind turbines. It burns cereal straw that comes from local farmers, which boosts their income. It is connected to a district heating network that provides heat for 85% of the community’s buildings.

Praised by Jury member Fiona Harvey due to its variety of technologies, Kisielice continues on the path towards energy independence. RenewEconomy reports: “A third wind farm of 24 MW is currently under construction and already partly in operation. Later this year, the town will announce a tender for the purchase and installation of the region’s first solar photovoltaic plant.”

Poland has a long way to go to kick its horrible dirty energy habit, but hopefully this town inspires others to follow suit. Here at CleanTechnica, we recently reported that Alstom secured its first deal for implementation of a wind energy project in Poland, “This project, expected to be commissioned by the end of 2015 would be one of the largest wind farms in Poland, and would be built at an estimated cost of €80 million.”

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A Small Town in Germany Becomes a Testing Ground for a Smart Grid
blog.rmi.org - NOV 6, 2014

A small German town in southern Bavaria is participating in an interesting experiment proving that a high-renewables future is viable. Wildpoldsried (pop. 2,600) currently produces 500 percent more energy than it needs through renewable energy systems, and sells the surplus power back to the grid. Though this is celebrated as a huge success in many circles, it’s not without its challenges, including how to integrate such a large local surplus of renewable energy into the greater grid while maintaining network stability. Which is why regional utility AW and Siemens chose Wildpoldsried to test out a smart grid that automatically stabilizes the power network.

BECOMING PROSUMERS
The story began in 1997, when Wildpoldsried mayor Arno Zengerle and the city council decided they wanted to revitalize the community and encourage growth without incurring debt. The town adopted the Innovative Leadership Plan, WIR-2020, to reinvent Wildpoldsried based on renewable energy, green building, and water resource protection. As part of the plan the town set a goal of producing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020.

Things happened much faster than planned—17 years later, the town now has five biogas plants, almost 5 MW of solar PV, 11 wind turbines with a total capacity of more than 12 MW, a biomass district heating network, three small hydro power plants, and 2,100 square meters of solar thermal systems. While the first two wind turbines were partly financed by a small grant from the state of Bavaria, local residents—many of them dairy farmers—have financed all following turbines. Those turbines, which generated over 17,000 MWh of electricity in 2013, have a payback of 10 years, and then generate 80 percent of the earnings of the dairy farms.

All public buildings, 120 private residences, and 4 companies are connected to the district heating system. The biomass for the system is all sourced from waste wood from local forests and generates 8.2 MMBtu of heat each year. The majority of the PV systems in the town are on private residences—about 200 homes now have rooftop solar. Nine municipal buildings including the primary school, recycling facility, and sports center also have PV systems. The electricity generated from the solar, wind, and biomass is sold to AW under a fixed-price 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA).


IRENE TO THE RESCUE
While all this excess renewable energy is bringing in over $7 million a year in revenue, it was also causing a headache for AW, which has to maintain grid stability. So in 2010 AW chose Wildpoldsried as the site for a smart grid experiment. Meanwhile, Siemens was looking for a grid operator to test its new smart grid technologies. The two teamed up and launched a $6 million project called IRENE—Integration of Regenerative Energy and Electric Mobility.

The first step in IRENE was to install 200 measuring devices at renewable energy systems throughout the town. The devices measure different electrical variables such as current, voltage, and frequency, to determine who’s feeding energy into the grid, who’s consuming energy from the grid, and to find any problems affecting the network’s stability. Once any problems are identified, a variable transformer offsets voltage fluctuations. The town has also incorporated 138 kWh of battery storage into the system, which receives and discharges electricity to help stabilize the grid.


KEEPING THE GRID STABLE WITH SOEASY
The key to the smart grid is a self-organizing automation system called SOEASY, which balances supply and demand to keep the grid stable. It is IRENE’s brain, so to speak. SOEASY considers weather, electricity prices, power quality, and other factors when deciding whether to send electricity into the grid or to storage. It’s actually more complex than the name makes it sound. SOEASY contains five different software modules—the personal energy agent, balance master, area administrator, network transport agent, and energy police.

Personal energy agent—Every “prosumer” in the town has a personal energy agent. This small device allows the energy producer to dictate how much power he or she wants to sell, at what time, and at what minimum price, in 15-minute intervals. It is, in some sense, a distributed energy resource marketplace on the scale of one town embedded in a far larger grid.
Balance master—The balance master is installed at AW and decides which personal energy agent offers it will accept to cover demand in the grid. It can plan adjustments up to a day in advance, and takes into account different parameters such as weather changes.
Area administrator—The area administrator helps AW maintain network stability if too much energy is being fed into the grid. The area administrator can modify the input from different sources via commands to their personal energy agents, can send energy to storage, or can adjust the voltage through the variable transformer.
Network transport agent—The network transport agent (NTA) collects data from the energy producers, consumers, and the grid, and supplies it to the area administrator, which intervenes if maximum voltage is exceeded, and to the balance master, which decides what power can be accepted without overloading the grid.
Energy Police—The energy police makes sure that all energy producers supply the power promised by their personal energy agents, and that no power is illegally siphoned off.

INTEGRATING EVS INTO THE SMART GRID
One way to help balance the grid is to use electric vehicles to store excess energy. Wildpoldsried now has 32 electric vehicles that are leased to residents. When there’s an energy surplus, the vehicle’s batteries are given charging priority. The plan for the future is to have the vehicles return electricity to the grid in case of power shortages.

IRENE ended in 2013, and the developed smart grid now serves as the foundation for IREN2 (Future Viable Networks for Integration of Renewable Energy Systems). The goal of IREN2 is to study how energy systems with distributed power generation, battery storage, district heating, biogas plants, and diesel generators can be technically and economically optimized.

The renewable energy systems in Wildpoldsried have done more than help Germany move towards its renewable energy goals. The renewable energy systems have created 140 new jobs, led to construction of an ecological training center, and increased tourism, with over 100 delegations visiting the town each year. The increased revenue has allowed the town to have its own doctors, recreation center, fire station, and other amenities not available in many other towns of a similar size. And the success of the smart grid will enable places to develop even larger smart grids for all of Germany and the world.

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.pdf icon BC Hydro Electric Tariff

A Service Connection and a meter are required to connect all Premises to BC Hydro's distribution system. A meter is not required in those cases where BC Hydro permits unmetered service. An Extension may also be required to provide service to a Premises not connected at the time the application for service is made.

from page 10

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4.3 Meter Testing

Any Customer who doubts the accuracy of the meter measuring Electricity used by the Customer may have the meter tested pursuant to the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act (Canada). Applications for such tests should be made to the nearest Measurement Canada  office.

If the meter test discloses that the meter is registering with an error greater than that permitted  under the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act, Measurement Canada will refund the fee to the  applicant and charge the cost of the test to BC Hydro. BC Hydro is not permitted to verify the  accuracy of meters. However, these regulations do not prevent BC Hydro making tests for its own information.

page 17-3

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5. METER READING AND BILLING

5.1. Meter Reading

The interval between consecutive meter readings shall be at the sole discretion of BC Hydro.

Where the Rate Schedule under which a Customer takes service does not require measurement of the Customer's demand, the meter will normally be read at intervals of two months. Where the Rate Schedule under which a Customer takes service requires measurement of the Customer's demand, the meter or meters will normally be read at intervals of one month.

page 19

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8.5. Refund of Extension Fee for Rate Zone I (Excluding Subdivisions)

8.5.1. Extension Fee $5,000 or Less
For an Extension where an Extension Fee of $5,000 or less is required from the Customer, BC Hydro will automatically refund to the Customer 20% of the required Extension Fee. This refund is in recognition of the estimated impact of subsequent Customer additions over the first five years and the original Customer is not eligible for any future refunds.

8.5.2. Extension Fee Greater Than $5,000
For an Extension where an Extension Fee greater than $5,000 is required from the Customer, BC Hydro will refund to the original Customer the difference, if any, between BC Hydro's maximum contribution for a subsequent Customer (as determined by BC Hydro) and BC Hydro's Contribution for that subsequent Customer, for all subsequent Customers that connect to the Extension in the first five years after the Extension is energized.

Refunds shall not exceed the original Customer Extension Fee. Amounts of $100 or less will not be refunded. Interest will not be paid on refunds.

A Customer may apply for a refund at any time after the first anniversary date of completion of the Extension. A refund evaluation request may only be made once in any 12-month period.

The Customer is responsible for initiating a written request to BC Hydro for a refund. Any Customer who fails to provide such a written request by the end of the sixth year after the energization of the Extension will forfeit all rights to any refund.

page 30

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11.2. Minimum Reconnection Charges

$125.00 per meter, if the Customer request for reconnection allows BC Hydro to make the reconnection during regular working hours.

$158.00 per meter, if the Customer request for reconnection requires BC Hydro to make the reconnection on overtime.

$355.00 per meter, if the Customer request for reconnection requires BC Hydro to make the reconnection on a call out.

page 39

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SCHEDULE 1101, 1121- RESIDENTIAL SERVICE

Availability: For Residential Service. Service is normally single phase, 60 hertz at the  secondary potential available. In BC Hydro's discretion, service may be  three phase 120/208 or 240 volts.
Applicable in: Rate Zone I.
Rate: 1. Schedule 1101 - Residential Service
Minimum Charge: Basic Charge 16.64 per day

Energy Charge

A. For customers billed monthly
Step 1 - First 675 kW.h per month @ 7.52 cents/kW.h
Step 2- Additional kW.h per month @ 11.27 cents/kW.h

B. For customers billed bi-monthly
Step 1- First 1350 kW.h per two months @ 7.52 cents/kW.h
Step 2- Additional kW.h per two months @ 11.27 cents/kW.h

Note: For billing purposes. Step 1 is pro-rated on a daily basis.

Tenth Revision of page 2

=================

Effective April 1, 2014

SCHEDULE 1107, 1127 - RESIDENTIAL SERVICE -ZONE II
Availability: For Residential Service. Service is normally single phase, 60 hertz at the  secondary potential available. In BC Hydro's discretion, service may be three  phase 120/208 or 240 volts.
Applicable in: Rate Zone II.

Rate:

1. Schedule 1107 - Residential Service
Minimum Charge: Basic Charge 17.75 per day
First 1500 kW.h per month @ 9.01 per kW.h
All additional kW.h per month @ 15.48 per kW.h.

2. Schedule 1127- Multiple Residential Service
Basic Charge 17.75 per single-family dwelling per day
First 1500 kW.h per single-family dwelling per month @ 9.01 per kW.h
All additional kW.h per month @ 15.48 per kW.h.

Schedule 1107- The Basic Charge.
Schedule 1127- The Basic Charge per Single-Family Dwelling.

Thirteenth Revision of page 6

===============

source: .pdf icon www.bchydro.com/content/dam/BCHydro/customer-portal/documents/corporate/tariff-filings/electric-tariff/00-bchydro-electric-tariff.pdf

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Thank you for your email requesting information about the difference between rate schedule 1101/1121 and rate schedule 1107/1127. All residential customers in BC receive service under the residential rate schedule 1101/1121 or 1107/1127 . The vast majority of customer receive service under rate schedule 1101/1121. The difference between the two rate schedules is the geographic location. There are several remote communities in BC that are served under Rate schedule 1107/1127. The following communities receive service under schedule 1107/1127:

1. Anahim Lake
2. Atlin
3. Bella Coola
4. Dease Lake
5. Eddontenajon
6. Elhlatesse
7. Fort Ware
8. Haida Gwaii
9. Hartley Bay
10. Telegraph Creek
11. Toad River
12. Tsay Keh

There is no difference between the “type of residence”, rather the difference is based on location. For more information you can refer to the map on page 9 of the Electric Tariff. A more detailed explanation is provided on pages 36 and 37 of the Electric Tariff.

The Tariff is available at: http://www.bchydro.com/about/planning_regulatory/tariff_filings/electric-tariff.html

BCUC Staff

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.pdf icon British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority
Application Regarding its Rates for F2014, F2015 and F2016,
Expenditures on Demand Side Measures in F2014, F2015 and F2016 and
Retail Access

*Note* Below are only snippets, please click link above for entire content.

A. On November 26, 2013, the Province of British Columbia announced a 10-year plan regarding British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority (BC Hydro) rates and revenue requirements including, among other things, average rate increases of 9 percent and 6 percent in fiscal 2015 (F2015) and fiscal 2016 (F2016), respectively;

B. On March 6, 2014, B.C. Reg. 29/2014 enacted Direction No. 6 (Direction No. 6) to the British Columbia Utilities Commission (Commission) pursuant to section 3 of the Utilities Commission Act (Act);

C. Direction No. 6 requires the Commission to issue final orders set out in the direction within twenty days of an application for such orders by BC Hydro. Direction No. 6 concerns fiscal year 2014 (F2014), F2015 and F2016 only. Once the Commission has issued the requested orders Direction No. 6 will no longer have legal effect;

D. On March 6, 2014, B.C. Reg. 28/2014 enacted Direction No. 7 (Direction No. 7) to the Commission pursuant to section 3 of the Act. Direction No. 7 primarily concerns fiscal year 2017 (F2017) and future fiscal periods, although some of its provisions also impact F2014, F2015, and F2016;

E. Direction No. 7 also repeals Heritage Special Direction No. HC2, but continues the essential elements of the  Heritage Contract framework formerly enshrined in Heritage Special Direction No. HC2;

F. On March 7, 2014, BC Hydro filed an application pursuant to the Act and Directions No. 6 and 7, seeking Commission orders that, among other things would confirm as final, and no longer subject to refund, BC Hydro’s F2014 rates and set its F2015 and F2016 Electric Tariff and Open Access Transmission Tariff rates as final (Application);

G. The F2015 and F2016 rates for which approval is sought are prescribed by Direction No. 6, and mostly effect average rate increases of 9 percent and 6 percent per year, respectively, subject to in all cases, except the Transmission Service Rate stepped rate (RS 1823), the Commission approved pricing principles;

H. Notwithstanding the pricing principles established in Order G-79-05, Direction No. 6 effectively results in the 9 percent and 6 percent rate increases in F2015 and F2016, respectively, being applied to both the Tier 1 and Tier 2 RS 1823 energy rates;

I. Three other rate schedules are also affected as a consequence of the equal application of the rate increase to the Tier 1 and Tier 2 energy charge of RS 1823 since those rate schedules are directly tied to the RS 1823 Tier 2 price. The affected rate schedules are: RS 1825 - Transmission Service - Time-of-Use, RS 1880 - Transmission Service - Standby and Maintenance Supply, and Tariff Supplement No. 76 - Shore Power;

page 1-2

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NOW THEREFORE for the reasons set out in the Reasons attached as Appendix B to this Order, the Commission orders as follows:

F2014 Final Rates
1. Pursuant to Direction No. 6, section 3(a), BC Hydro's F2014 schedule of expenditures on demand-side measures is accepted as shown in Schedule A to Appendix A of this Order.
2. Pursuant to Direction No. 6, section 3(b), BC Hydro’s F2014 rates, set as interim by Order G-77-12A, are confirmed as final and no longer subject to refund.

page 3

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Smart Metering Infrastructure (SMI) Regulatory Account

8. Pursuant to Direction No. 6, section 3(l)(ii), BC Hydro must defer to the SMI Regulatory Account its F2015 and F2016 net operating costs arising from the smart metering and infrastructure program and the net operating costs arising from Order G-166-13.

9. Pursuant to Direction No. 6, section 3(l)(i), BC Hydro must amortize from the SMI Regulatory Account the amounts of $30.5 million and $31.3 million in F2015 and F2016 respectively.

page 4

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F2015 and F2016 Final Rates

33. Pursuant to Direction No. 6, section 3(a), and section 44.2 of the Utilities Commission Act, BC Hydro’s F2015 and F2016 schedule of expenditures on demand-side measures is accepted as shown in Schedule A to  Appendix A of this Order.

34. Pursuant to Direction No. 6, section 3(c) and Direction No. 7, section 16(3), BC Hydro’s F2015 and F2016 Electric Tariff rates are set as shown in Schedule B to Appendix A of this Order, effective April 1, 2014 and April 1, 2015 respectively on a final, non-refundable basis.

35. Pursuant to Direction No. 6, section 3(d), BC Hydro’s F2015 and F2016 Open Access Transmission Tariff rates are set as shown in Schedule C to Appendix A of this Order, effective April 1, 2014 and April 1, 2015 respectively on a final, non-refundable basis.

page 7

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By operation of the 20 day time period in sections 3(c) and 3(d) of Direction No 6, March 27, 2014 is the final  date for the Commission to approve the rates set out in Appendix B and Appendix C to that direction.

On March 13, 2014, the Ministry of Energy and Mines (Ministry) filed a letter with the Commission identifying an  error in Direction No. 6, Appendix B, with respect to the energy rate unit in the Electric Tariff Rates for RS 3808 Transmission Service to FortisBC Inc. The letter states that the energy rate should be in cents per kilowatt hour, as in the existing RS 3808 rate, rather than in dollars per kilowatt hour as it appears in Direction No. 6.  The letter further states that the Ministry is working with the Ministry of Justice Legislative Counsel to draft an amendment to Direction No. 6 to rectify the error; however, the amendment cannot be made prior to the Commission’s issuing deadline of Thursday, March 27, 2014.

On March 17, 2014 the BC Hydro filed a submission in which it also identified the error in Direction No. 6. BC  Hydro submits that the Rate Schedule 3808 energy rates set out in Direction No. 6 are over 100 times greater than the current energy rate in Rate Schedule 3808 and that “[i]ncreasing the energy rates from the current rate of $0.03724/kWh to $4.059/kWh would result in monthly charges in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars and annual charges in the billions of dollars.” BC Hydro submits that as a matter of statutory interpretation the  Commission could substitute the correct rates for the erroneous (and unacceptably absurd) rates. BC Hydro amended the relief it was seeking accordingly.

Appendix B page 1

=====================

For these reasons, the Commission agrees there is a meritorious basis for granting the section 16(3) relief sought by BC Hydro. Accordingly, the Commission approves the F2015 and F2016 rates as contained in Schedule B to Appendix A, of Order G-48-14 effective April 1, 2014 and April 1, 2015 respectively on a final and non-refundable basis.

In addition, the Commission makes the other orders sought by BC Hydro in the Application.

BC Hydro must file amended rate schedules for F2015 in accordance with the directives in Order G-48-14 by  March 31, 2014

Appendix B page 6

======================


click image for a larger copy

 

Source: .pdf icon  www.bcuc.com/Documents/Proceedings/2014/DOC_41131_03-24-2014-G-48-14_BCH-F15-16-RevenueRequirements.pdf

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Below are a couple newspaper articles that were found in "The Valley Voice" Oct 8, 2014.  The first one was researched by Sharon Noble and others.  And the second one sounds like BC Hydro lost a customer.

 


click page for a larger copy

 


click article for a larger copy

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THOMPSON OKANAGAN COLUMBIA COMMUNITY RELATIONS 2014 ANNUAL REPORT SEPTEMBER 2014

*Note, these are only snippets, please click link above for entire content

RELIABILITY PERFORMANCE
In Fiscal 2014, the BC Hydro average interruption duration per customer was 2.30 hours compared to 2.34 hours in Fiscal 2013. The  average number of interruptions per customer in Fiscal 2014 was 1.56 compared to 1.60 in Fiscal 2013. These statistics also include  interruptions due to planned outages. page 4

The lifespan of a distribution pole is approximately 40 to 50 years, but simply using the age of a pole is not an accurate method to determine its reliability, therefore BC Hydro inspects poles regularly.

GRANTS-IN-LIEU
BC Hydro pays net property tax and grant payments to local governments. The grant program is a Provincial Government initiative and  the amounts paid are determined under the current legislation. Listed below are the grants paid to each community in the Thompson  Okanagan Columbia region as at June 30, 2014. page 6


click for a larger copy of these grants-in-lieu

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Action wanted over smart meters
by Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - Oct 12, 2014

Spallumcheen is ringing alarm bells about smart meters.

Council wants assurances from the provincial government that B.C. Hydro smart meters do not cause fires, don’t create harmful radiation and aren’t prone to inaccuracy causing overbilling.

“Smart meters have been removed from Saskatchewan and some communities have refused them altogether,” said Coun. Ed Hanoski.

Council also wants to know if the meters are approved by the Underwriters Laboratory and Canadian Safety Standards.

Until these issues are clarified, council says residents who refuse a smart meter should be able to access an analog meter.

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REVIEW OF BC HYDRO June 2011

Over the next four years, BC Hydro will be replacing all 1.8M residential and commercial customers' existing meters with new Smart Meters. The meters used by BC Hydro for electricity reading are based on 1950’s technology, so in October, 2005, BC Hydro began their Smart Meters or Advanced Metering Infrastructure review to determine how current
technology could better serve ratepayers and the province.

In their Fiscal 2006 Service Plan, BC Hydro committed to the SMI project with completion scheduled for 2012, and the Clean Energy Act reiterated the completion of the project by 2012. The SMI budget is estimated at approximately $930M:

page 116

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Recommendation
We recommend that BC Hydro:
(55) Re-evaluate the cost estimates of the SMI project to determine if there are opportunities to reduce the overall costs of the project, decreasing costs to ratepayers over the longer term, including reassessment of high project contingencies.

The benefits of having differential pricing (Time of Use rates) for peak and non-peak times is to encourage conservation. BC Hydro states on their website that this differential pricing may be considered after the completion of the current Integrated Resource Planning process. The planning process will determine if there is any need for Time of Use rates
to meet BC Hydro's future capacity needs. If voluntary time of use rates are not implemented, a small amount of the savings estimated in the business case may not be realized, however even without time of use there would be positive payback, as theft detection and operational efficiencies makes up 93% of savings while time of use is only 7% of savings according to the business case. As noted in section 2.5.1, government has directed that mandatory differential pricing will not be implemented.

page 117

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BC Hydro is creating an incentive for individuals to obtain In-Home Display units. The purpose of these In-Home Display units is to encourage people to actively track their real time use of electricity and, thereby, reduce their consumption. The rebate program will cover the full cost of a basic residential unit which has a commercial value of approximately $50. The budget value for this rebate program is estimated at $42M. Given that consumption tracking can be done with a computer or hand-held device, and the current economic constraints BC Hydro is facing and the impact of the cost of the rebate to ratepayers, BC Hydro may wish to re-examine the incentive.

Recommendation
We recommend that BC Hydro:
(56) Re-evaluate the SMI in home display rebate program to actively track real time use of electricity and to assess the benefits of the program versus the impact of the program costs on ratepayers.
Consider whether this element of the program should require prior BC Utilities Commission approval.

BC Hydro estimates that approximately 45% of the cost savings benefit to be derived from the SMI project will be from theft detection. This has been  supported by independent research from the University of the Fraser Valley Center for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research.
If these estimated benefits are realized over the long term, ratepayers will receive a return on their investment in SMI through lowered energy costs.

page 118

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Clean Energy Act (current)
This Act has "Not in Force" sections. See the Table of Legislative Changes. (not sure if this is the correct link, but we think so)
CLEAN ENERGY ACT
[SBC 2010] CHAPTER 22
This Act is Current to September 10, 2014

Smart meters
17 (1) In this section:

"private dwelling" means

(a) a structure that is occupied as a private residence, or
(b) if only part of a structure is occupied as a private residence, that part of the structure;

"smart grid" means the prescribed equipment;

"smart meter" means a meter that meets the prescribed requirements, and includes related components, equipment and metering and communication infrastructure that meet the prescribed requirements.

(2) Subject to subsection (3), the authority must install and put into operation smart meters and related equipment in accordance with and to the extent required by the regulations.
(3) The authority must complete all obligations imposed under subsection (2) by the end of the 2012 calendar year.
(4) The authority must establish a program to install and put into operation a smart grid in accordance with and to the extent required by the regulations.
(5) The authority may, by itself, or by its engineers, surveyors, agents, contractors, subcontractors or employees, enter on any land, other than a private dwelling, without the consent of the owner, for a purpose relating to the use, maintenance, safeguarding, installation, replacement, repair, inspection, calibration or reading of its meters, including smart meters, or of its smart grid.
(6) If a public utility, other than the authority, makes an application under the Utilities Commission Act in relation to smart meters, other advanced meters or a smart grid, the commission, in considering the application, must consider the government's goal of having smart meters, other advanced meters and a smart grid in use with respect to customers other than those of the authority.

===========================

Clean Energy Act (The originating legislation)

"smart meter" means a meter that meets the prescribed requirements, and includes related components, equipment and metering and communication infrastructure that meet the prescribed requirements.

(2) Subject to subsection (3), the authority must install and put into operation smart meters and related equipment in accordance with and to the extent required by the regulations.
(3) The authority must complete all obligations imposed under subsection (2) by the end of the 2012 calendar year.

(4) The authority must establish a program to install and put into operation a smart grid in accordance with and to the extent required by the regulations.
(5) The authority may, by itself, or by its engineers, surveyors, agents, contractors, subcontractors or employees, enter on any land, other than a private dwelling, without the consent of the owner, for a purpose relating to the use, maintenance, safeguarding, installation, replacement, repair, inspection, calibration or reading of its meters, including smart meters, or of its smart grid.
(6) If a public utility, other than the authority, makes an application under the Utilities Commission Act in relation to smart meters, other advanced meters or a smart grid, the commission, in considering the application, must consider the government's goal of having smart meters, other advanced meters and a smart grid in use with respect to customers other than those of the authority.

http://www.leg.bc.ca/39th2nd/1st_read/gov17-1.htm

===========================

BC Hydro's website

Implementation to be Prudent and On Budget
Smart meter installation will be on time and on budget. Installation of smart meters will begin in 2011 and will be complete by the end of 2012 with other elements of the program implemented through 2014

Installation of Smart Meters Mid 2011 through 2012
Customers receive information packages before smart meters are installed in their community1.

Smart meters are part of an integrated program that will pay for itself through reduced theft of electricity, energy savings,
and operational efficiencies. This means that over the long term the Smart Metering Program will reduce customer rates
below what they would otherwise be in the absence of BC Hydro’s investment in the program.

If the link above does not work anymore, click this link.

===========================

Clean Energy Act
SMART METERS AND SMART GRID REGULATION
Note: Check the Cumulative Regulation Bulletin 2014
for any non-consolidated amendments to this regulation that may be in effect.
[includes amendments up to B.C. Reg. 405/2012, December 27, 2012]

Installation of smart meters and related equipment
3 (1) Subject to subsection (3), by the end of the 2012 calendar year, the authority must install and put into operation

(a) a smart meter for each eligible premises, and
(b) all of the following related equipment:

(i) communications infrastructure for transmitting information among smart meters and the computer hardware and software systems described in subparagraph (ii);
(ii) secure computer hardware and software systems that enable the authority to do all of the following:
(A) monitor, control and configure smart meters and the communications infrastructure referred to in subparagraph (i);
(B) store, validate, analyze and use the information measured by and received from smart meters;
(C) provide, through the internet, to a person who receives electricity from the authority secure access to information about the person's electricity consumption and generation, if any, measured by a smart meter;
(D) establish a secure telecommunications link between in-home feedback devices and smart meters that are compatible with each other;
(E) bill customers in accordance with rates that encourage the shift of the use of electricity from periods of higher demand to periods of lower demand;
(F) integrate the systems with the authority's other business systems.
(2) The communications infrastructure referred to in subsection (1) (b) (i) must include a telecommunications network that is capable of delivering two-way, digital, and secure communication.
(3) If it is impracticable because of distance, electromagnetic interference, physical obstruction or other similar cause for the authority to establish a telecommunications link between the smart meter at an eligible premises and the computer hardware and software system referred to in subsection (1) (b) (ii), the authority is not required to install or put into operation the communications infrastructure referred to in subsection (1) (b) (i) for the purpose of establishing that telecommunications link.
(4) The authority must integrate the operation of smart meters and related equipment with the authority's other operations.
Smart grid
4 (1) The program required under section 17 (4) of the Act must be established by the end of the 2015 calendar year and include the following components:


(a) the establishment and operation of a connectivity model and the installation and operation of
(i) at least 9 000 but no more than 35 000 system devices, and
(ii) computer hardware and software systems
to enable the authority to
(iii) perform electricity balance analyses for the electric distribution system, and
(iv) estimate the amount of electricity supplied from a portion of the electric distribution system to unmetered loads that are not known to the authority and to estimate the location of those loads;
(b) the acquisition of investigation devices and computer software to enable the authority to identify the location of the unmetered loads referred to in paragraph (a) (iv);
(c) the establishment and operation of telecommunications networks that
(i) have sufficient speed and bandwidth, and
(ii) enable two-way, digital, and secure communication among system devices, automation-enabled devices and the systems and equipment used by the authority for monitoring and controlling its electric system
to facilitate
(iii) the operation of the authority's electric system,
(iv) the integration, on a large scale, of distributed generation into the electric distribution system, and
(v) the provision of electricity service that allows for the large-scale use of electric vehicles by its customers.
(2) The authority must integrate the operation of the smart grid with the authority's other operations.

==============================

BRITISH COLUMBIA HYDRO AND POWER AUTHORITY
APPLICATION FOR APPROVAL OF CHARGES RELATED TO THE METER CHOICES PROGRAM DECISION
April 25, 2014

The existing version reads as follows:

Commission Determination
The Panel has considered circumstances where BC Hydro reads a meter less frequently than bimonthly but bills the
customer a monthly charge to recover the costs of bi-monthly meter reading and determines that making such a
charge is unjust and unreasonable. Accordingly, in the event that a Program customer’s meter is read less
frequently than bi-monthly the portion of the Monthly Charge attributable to bi-monthly meter reading costs, as
approved elsewhere in this decision, must not be charged. The Panel directs BC Hydro to develop a solution to
ensure these charges are just and reasonable, and only reflect meter reading costs for the frequency of actual
meter readings. In developing its solution BC Hydro should also consider how, if subsequent to the date that the
interim rates came into effect, a meter has been read less frequently than monthly, it will apply the retroactive
adjustment in a just and reasonable manner. This proposed solution must be filed for review with the
Commission on or before June 30, 2014.

It should read:
Commission Determination
The Panel has considered circumstances where BC Hydro reads a meter less frequently than bimonthly but bills the
customer a monthly charge to recover the costs of bi-monthly meter reading and determines that making such a
charge is unjust and unreasonable. Accordingly, in the event that a Program customer’s meter is read less
frequently than bi-monthly the portion of the Monthly Charge attributable to bi-monthly meter reading costs, as
approved elsewhere in this decision, must not be charged. The Panel directs BC Hydro to develop a solution to
ensure these charges are just and reasonable, and only reflect meter reading costs for the frequency of actual
meter readings. In developing its solution BC Hydro should also consider how, if subsequent to the date that the
interim rates came into effect, a meter has been read less frequently than
bi-monthly, it will apply the
retroactive adjustment in a just and reasonable manner.
This proposed solution must be filed for review with
the Commission on or before June 30, 2014.

Subsequent means after

If the link above doesn't work try this link or this link.

Just the Appendixes (taken from this document cause they were in the middle lost and hard to find)

================================

Bulletins

Cumulative B.C. Regulations Bulletin October 7, 2014
Clean Energy Act
416/2014 Amending B.C. Reg. 320/2010 — Standing Offer Program Regulation 119/2014 June 23, 2014
http://www.qp.gov.bc.ca/statreg/bulletin/bull2014/cumulati.htm

B.C. Regulations Bulletin No. 23, June 24, 2014
Clean Energy Act
416/2014 Amending B.C. Reg. 320/2010 — Standing Offer Program Regulation 119/2014 June 23, 2014
http://www.qp.gov.bc.ca/statreg/bulletin/bull2014/bull23.htm

=================================

B.C. Reg. 203/2013
O.C. 391/2013 Deposited September 25, 2013
Utilities Commission Act
DIRECTION NO. 4 TO THE BRITISH COLUMBIA UTILITIES COMMISSION

Note: Check the Cumulative Regulation Bulletin 2014
for any non-consolidated amendments to this regulation that may be in effect.

Rates
3 (1) In setting rates under the Act for the authority, the commission must ensure that the rates allow the authority to collect sufficient revenue in each fiscal year to enable it to recover the following costs from the following customers:

(a) program costs, investigation costs and infrastructure costs from
(i) applicable customers at applicable premises where a legacy meter or radio-off meter is installed, to the extent that the authority requests recovery of any of those costs from these customers, and
(ii) all customers, to the extent that any of those costs are not recovered under subparagraph (i);

(b) from all customers, costs incurred with respect to the installation and operation of, and services related to, smart meters;
(c) failed installation costs from customers at a premises where a failed installation occurred.
(2) The commission must allow the authority to establish a regulatory account for the recovery of costs referred to in subsection (1) (a) (ii) and (1) (b) for the period from January 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014.
(3) Within 30 days of the date this direction comes into force, the commission must issue an order so that the Electric Tariff of the authority is amended by adding the provisions set out in the Appendix to this direction.
(4) The commission must not do anything to amend the provisions added to the Electric Tariff under subsection (3), except on application by the authority.

Blue Divider Line

Power outage thaws business
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore | Story: 124077 - Oct 3, 2014

Businesses took losses because of Wednesday night's power outage.
One of the owners of a frozen meal company based in West Kelowna says his business has been adversely affected by two recent power outages.

Christopher Cruz is a part owner of AIO Meal Solutions, a company that provides meals to several organizations, including senior's homes, Kelowna Community Resources and the Cancer Society among others, throughout the Central Okanagan.

Cruz says he is still dealing with the insurance company over a $30,000 loss resulting from a previous power outage in West Kelowna a month-and-a-half or two months ago.

As for this latest outage, Cruz says he was forced to close the doors today (Wednesday) and is still trying to determine the value of this latest loss.

"We kept our doors closed today because for health reasons we want to make sure none of our clients get sick from our food," says Cruz.

"We have people that order from us on a regular basis, weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, so when something like the blackout occurs it hurts."

Cruz says he uses commercial freezers which means he can't use an ordinary generator to keep the freezers going.

"They (freezers) do require a higher amount of power and in order for us to put that kind of infrastructure in...the building we are working out of is 35 to 40 years old so we would have to do some major restructuring."

Cruz hopes BC Hydro gets the message after this latest nine hour outage.

"I'm hoping that we echo the same voice and the premier and our mayor that we highly encourage BC Hydro to work on an alternative to the main line should something along this nature occur again."

While Cruz hasn't spoken directly with Premier Christy Clark or Mayor Doug Findlater, he hopes to make his feelings know at an event Friday night which will be attended by the premier.

Cruz says he doesn't know if this latest setback will affect his business long term.

Read Mayor Findlater's reaction to the outage next story below.

Blue Divider Line

Mayor wants more power
Castanet.net - by Ragnar Haagen | Story: 124053 - Oct 2, 2014

Last night’s power outage affected 22,000 customers after a fire broke out along the only line that serves the west side of Okanagan Lake.

Residents from West Kelowna to Summerland were all left in the dark for approximately nine hours. Some people made the most of it by finding interesting things to do during the outage. Had it happened during one of the colder winter months, it might not have been all fun and games.

It also brings up the need for a secondary power line, an issue that has been voiced for several years – including earlier this summer when the Smith Creek fire came dangerously close to power lines feeding West Kelowna.

There was a worry during the Smith Creek fire that power could be cut to West Kelowna and other communities in the Central Okanagan if the blaze got any closer to the main power line.
Mayor Doug Findlater says it first came to council’s attention seven years ago, but they were assured by BC Hydro that the line was in good shape and a secondary option was not needed.

“We experienced the threat this summer from the (Smith Creek) fire, where we could have lost the line at that point, but didn’t and we were thankful,” he says.

“I met with BC Hydro a couple of months ago. They’re working on it, they have the business plan open, and we followed up again last week at UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities).”

That’s when he says BC Hydro agreed to a deadline whereby a new line will be built, but it remains unclear when that will actually happen.

According to Findlater, the decision and timeframe for BC Hydro is based on risk assessment.

“This line is actually (compared to other lines) very reliable. It doesn’t go down very often,” he says.

“We can see that when there’s an outage, it’s usually a local outage as opposed to the transmission line. So they actually consider it rather low risk.”

But the West Kelowna mayor points out that he is more concerned with the consequences if a significant outage befalls his constituents during a prolonged cold spell.

“It could ultimately, if it went on for several days, lead to evacuations of care centres. People couldn’t stay there because it could get cold, or they couldn’t get fed, and so on. That’s a different kind of risk, but it’s not in their calculations. In any event, we now have a commitment and we’re pleased with that.”

Findlater expects to hear the results of BC Hydro’s assessment sometime next month, adding there are three options:

An alternate line brought in from Merritt
A line from the Vernon substation in the north
A submarine line from Fortis in Kelowna

Each of those lines are tentatively priced around $50 million, but that’s before right-of-ways and property easements and assessments have been taken into account, which could double the price.

“BC Hydro has some autonomy. It’s not in their long-term capital plan and they have to go through the process of getting it in their plan. Even in the best case scenario, I doubt you’ll see it resolved next year, but hopefully within the next five years.”

Power restored
Castanet.net - by Carmen Weld | Story: 124008 - Oct 2, 2014

Photo: Trevor Rockliffe - a very dark condo complex in West Kelowna
4:40 a.m. update:

The power was restored to 22,000 customers, from West Kelowna to Summerland, at around 3:30 a.m.

It took BC Hydro almost nine hours to bring the communities out of the dark.

The outage occurred at around 6:45 p.m., forcing businesses to close their doors; from gas stations to movie theatres, all were left in the dark.

BC Hydro says there was a problem at a substation near Merritt.

More details to follow.

What did people do while the power was out? To find out click here.

10:15 p.m. update:

BC Hyrdo’s Dag Sharman says crews are now on site, but are dealing with a difficult situation.

The fault in the circuit, the problem area, is in the mountains north of the highway and the terrain is challenging.

Sharman says crews are doing their best, in the pitch black, to find the cause of the outage and repair it, but their safety must come first.

BC Hydro still says they aim to have power back on by 11 p.m. but given the mountainous challenging terrain, Sharman says it may be longer.

Power has been out for three and half hours from West Kelowna to Summerland affecting nearly 22,000 customers, including businesses.

If you are a business owner affected by this outage, email us at news "at" castanet.net.

UPDATE 9:30 P.M.

BC Hydro crews are still estimating power will be returned by 11 p.m. for the nearly 22,000 customers in the dark.

We are expecting an update from them soon, details to come.

8:15 p.m. update:

BC Hydro's Dag Sharman says crews are on their way to determine what is causing the fault in the circuit.

The current estimate of 11 p.m. may change once crews arrive and evaluate the situation.

Homes from the West Kelowna to Summerland are entirely in the black.

How are you spending the power outage? Any good tips to enjoy your time in the dark? Send your stories to news "at" castanet.net.

7:25 p.m. update:

BC Hydro says the outage stems from an issue with the transmission line 30 kilometres east of Merritt, coming from the Nicola substation.

Crews are on their way, and at this time it is not known what is causing the outage.

BC Hydro is still estimating power will be returned by 11 p.m. for the nearly 22,000 customers without power.

7:15 p.m. update:

BC Hydro is now estimating power will be returned by 11 p.m. for the nearly 22,000 customers without power.

Unconfirmed sources tell Castanet the outage may be a result of a transmitter failure on the Coquihalla.

More details to come.

ORIGINAL:

Power is out for the majority of West Kelowna, Peachland and parts of Summerland Wednesday afternoon affecting nearly 22,000 homes.

According to BC Hydro, the power went out at 6:36 p.m. and is being blamed on a 'Transmission circuit failure', which they define as a transmission outage affecting a large area or a number of substations.

BC Hydro estimates power will be back on by 8 p.m. tonight.

More details to come.

Conserve water
Castanet.net - by Trevor Rockliffe | Story: 124013 - Oct 1, 2014

Dark water - residents are asked to conserve water.

The Westbank First Nation (WFN) has released a statement asking residents to conserve water until power can be restored.

"Long-term power outages such as this can be concerning for water distribution and treatment processes, as pump houses often have only short-term back-up generators in place," says Dawn McGrath, WFN Superintendent of Public Works.

"While it is not a concern yet, we need to reduce consumption, in order to not overload the system, until power is restored."

BC Hydro is now estimating power may be restored at approximately 1 a.m.

If BC Hydro did not read your old analogue meter, and gave you an estimated bill, you may be eligible for a credit.

*Note* This is only a snippet below, please click both links for entire content

BC Hydro Missed Read Credit Adjustment

There are three primary reasons why BC Hydro would not obtain a scheduled meter reading:

1. BC Hydro dispatched a FMA to the customer’s premises but the FMA is not able to safely read the meter because of an access issue on the customer’s property.
Examples include safety issues such as dogs or unplowed driveways, and physical issues such as locked gates or overgrown landscaping.
2. BC Hydro did not dispatch a FMA to the premises due to a lack of resources.
3. BC Hydro dispatched a FMA to the customer’s premises but the FMA is not able to safely obtain a meter reading for reasons outside of the control of either BC Hydro or the customer, reflecting a force majeure event such as inclement weather or, upon reaching the site, finding that the meter had failed.

page 2 of bc_hydro_notice_of_regulatory_filing_bch_meter_choices_program.pdf

===========

A missed read credit adjustment will not be issued in non-read months for the approximately 26 per cent of Meter Choices Program customers on EPP (Equal payment plan).

page 3  of bc_hydro_notice_of_regulatory_filing_bch_meter_choices_program.pdf

============

Adjustment Processing
BC Hydro will modify its billing system such that an eligible estimated read for a Meter  Choices Program customer will issue a credit adjustment for the missed read, based on  the assignment of the “Can’t Read Code” as described above.

For circumstances where BC Hydro did not obtain a manual meter reading for a bi-monthly period for a Meter Choices Program customer prior to re-training the FMAs (Field Metering Analysts) and implementing the billing system change, it will not be practicable to discern whether the missed read was due to case 1, 2, or 3, above. Accordingly, BC Hydro will apply the credit to Meter Choices program customers for all circumstances where BC Hydro did not obtain a manual meter reading for a bi-monthly period between the effective date of the Meter Choices Program charges and the implementation of the training and billing system change (targeted for August 8, 2014).  As clarified above, this will exclude the EPP (equal payment plan) non-read month estimated reading and monthly read frequency accounts that do not have two consecutive missed reads.

As of June 10, 2014, BC Hydro has determined that approximately, 12,500 missed readings are to be credited. Retroactive adjustments will start to apply to Meter Choices  Program customers’ bills after August 8, 2014 and will include interest at BC Hydro’s annual weighted average cost of debt for its most recent fiscal year.

page 4 of bc_hydro_notice_of_regulatory_filing_bch_meter_choices_program.pdf

====================

For circumstances where BC Hydro did not obtain a manual meter reading for a bi-monthly period for a Meter Choices Program customer prior to re-training the FMAs and implementing the billing system change, it will not be practicable to discern whether the missed read was due to case 1, 2, or 3, above. Accordingly, BC Hydro will apply the Application for Approval of Charges Related to Meter Choices Program (Application) Compliance with BCUC Order No. G-59-14, Decision Section 4.2.2 Failure to Read a Meter credit to Meter Choices program customers for all circumstances where BC Hydro did not obtain a manual meter reading for a bi-monthly period between the effective date of the Meter Choices Program charges and the implementation of the training and billing system change (targeted for August 8, 2014). As clarified above, this will exclude the EPP non-read month estimated reading and monthly read frequency accounts that do not have two consecutive missed reads.

As of June 10, 2014, BC Hydro has determined that approximately, 12,500 missed readings are to be credited. Retroactive adjustments will start to apply to Meter Choices Program customers’ bills after August 8, 2014 and will include interest at BC Hydro’s annual weighted average cost of debt for its most recent fiscal year.

page 4 -5 of bc_hydro_notice_of_regulatory_filing_bch_meter_choices_program.pdf

==================

Adjustment Amount
Table 3.7 of the Order No. G-59-14 Decision identifies the approved meter reading costs included in the Meter Choices Program monthly charges, which are summarized as follows:

Legacy Meters $27.90 costing BC Hydro $837,000 = 30,000 meters
Radio-off Meters $30.08 costing BC Hydro $902,400 = 30,000 meters

page 4 of bc_hydro_notice_of_regulatory_filing_bch_meter_choices_program.pdf

=======================

It should read:

Commission Determination
The Panel has considered circumstances where BC Hydro reads a meter less frequently than bimonthly but bills the
customer a monthly charge to recover the costs of bi-monthly meter reading and determines that making such a charge is unjust and unreasonable. Accordingly, in the event that a Program customer’s meter is read less frequently than bi-monthly the portion of the Monthly Charge attributable to bi-monthly meter reading costs, as approved elsewhere in this decision, must not be charged. The Panel directs BC Hydro to develop a solution to ensure these charges are just and reasonable, and only reflect meter reading costs for the frequency of actual meter readings. In developing its solution BC Hydro should also consider how, if subsequent to the date that the interim rates came into effect, a meter has been read less frequently than bi-monthly, it will apply the retroactive adjustment in a just and reasonable manner. This proposed solution must be filed for review with the Commission on or before June 30, 2014.

page 5 of doc_41269_04-25-2014_bch_meter choices_decision_g-59-14_web.pdf

==================

BC Hydro states that deployment of radio-off meters is expected to be substantially completed by April 2014, and proposed that the charges for having a radio-off meter installed become effective April 1, 2014 (Exhibit B-1, p. 2-8).

page 11 of doc_41269_04-25-2014_bch_meter choices_decision_g-59-14_web.pdf

==================

In addition, Order G-167-13 directed that:
• The proposed charges to be applied to customers that have a legacy meter installed at their premises are set on an interim and refundable basis, effective December 2, 2013.
• The proposed charges to be applied to customers that have a radio-off meter installed at this premises are set at an interim and refundable basis, effective April 1, 2014.

page 12 of the .pdf doc_41269_04-25-2014_bch_meter choices_decision_g-59-14_web.pdf

We told Hydro we would take a smart meter on April 28, 2014 immediately after the ruling on April 25, 2014 came down saying we had to pay for legacy meter readings.  October 20, 2014 we still don't have a smart meter?  We are not paying the reading fee anymore, so who is paying for BC hydro to read our Legacy Meter?

Blue Divider Line

Smyth: Smart meter expert paid $1.6 million to head B.C. Hydro project
By Michael Smyth - The Province - July 2, 2014

American Gary Murphy was paid $1.6 million over 2 years as B.C. Hydro’s smart-meter project leader.
Call him the Smart Meter Millionaire.

Gary Murphy is an American consultant brought in by B.C. Hydro to run the corporation’s controversial smart-meter program.

He ended up making more money than Hydro’s president and rang up one of the biggest expense accounts in government.

Murphy was paid more than $1.6 million for two and a half years as Hydro’s smart-meter project leader, according to documents obtained under the B.C. Freedom of Information Act.

That included $176,930.47 for expenses, mainly for flights between Vancouver and Murphy’s home in Philadelphia.

The contract also covered flights for his wife.

“The contract called for 26 round-trip flights a year for himself or his wife, but not for travel together,” Hydro vice-president Greg Reimer explained Wednesday.

“One could speculate that if he didn’t go home for a weekend, his wife could come and visit him.”

NDP leader John Horgan called the contract outrageous.

“The smart-meter program takes another black eye,” Horgan fumed.

“A billion-dollar boondoggle with a $1.6-million cherry on top for what may be the most expensive temporary foreign worker in B.C.

“It’s outrageous excess as Hydro rates go through the roof.”

But the government says Murphy did an excellent job and was worth the money.

“Mr. Murphy is someone who is highly qualified to do work that most people can’t do,” said Energy Minister Bill Bennett, noting Murphy has 20 years’ experience building electrical “smart grids.”

Murphy did not return a phone call on Wednesday.

Bennett admitted the contract might seem lucrative, but he said people should consider the skills involved.

“The average person in British Columbia will raise their eyebrows, I’m sure, when they hear how much this man was paid,” Bennett said.

“There are certain kinds of specialized knowledge and experience that you do have to pay for because it’s in demand and there’s not that much of it. That was the case here.”

Hydro’s smart meters, announced in 2010, report customers’ power usage using wireless radio transmissions. Hydro has been replacing manually read analog meters at a cost of $1 billion.

Hydro says smart meters will save millions of dollars in energy conservation and operating efficiencies, but the program has been controversial. Some customers have complained of over-billing — which Hydro denies — while others fear health effects from radio waves.

Murphy was hired at $265 US an hour to provide “overall strategic leadership” of the smart-meter program, according to his contract.

Originally capped at just over $1 million, the maximum amount payable was twice adjusted upward. The contract expired last fall.

Murphy is a physicist who holds a master’s degree in science and has worked on smart-meter projects in other jurisdictions.

But critics wondered why B.C. Hydro couldn’t find local expertise to operate the program.

“There’s no way we had to go to the states,” said Norm Ryder of Stop Smart Meters B.C.

“I think they could have easily found a qualified British Columbian for the job instead of constantly flying someone across the continent.”

Not so, said Reimer, the Hydro vice-president.

“B.C. Hydro conducted an exhaustive search for an experienced project leader,” Reimer said, though he also acknowledged “there was no official public procurement process” for the job.

Smart-meter opponents are furious Hydro is charging customers a $35-a-month surcharge to keep their old analog meters. Customers can also pay $100 to disable their smart meter’s radio transmitter and then pay $20 a month for manual readings.

The scale of Murphy’s salary and benefits make the fees even tougher to swallow, said Sharon Noble of the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters.

“Those who refuse having a smart meter are being charged the highest opt-out fees in all of North America,” she said.

Another group fighting smart meters has launched a class-action suit against B.C. Hydro. A judge is expected to decide this fall if the suit will go ahead.

Reimer credited Murphy for bringing in the smart-meter program $100 million under budget, and the government said his eligible expenses could have maxed out at $340,000 — much less than what he actually billed.

But if the class-action lawsuit goes ahead this fall, the smart-meter wars will be raging once again.

Blue Divider Line

Serious fire on Oxford Street caused by Smart Meter installation gone wrong
globalnews.ca - By Whitney Stinson - May 14, 2014

REGINA – A family of three is out of their home after a serious fire on Oxford Street.

The Deputy Fire Chief says it started just after 12:30 p.m. when crews from Grid One were changing the power meter on the exterior of the house.

They were updating from a standard to a smart meter when it accidentally short circuited and created a spark that went into the basement.

Firefighters had to back out of the basement at first because the flames were too hot and intense. Only after they popped the windows and poured water into the lower level were they able to get inside.

In that time, the blaze spread to the main floor of the house as well.

Only one person was home – they got out safe and sound.

The family of three is now finding alternate accommodations with the help of the Mobile Crisis Unit.

The Deputy Fire Chief says because of Regina’s soil conditions power crews do see a lot of pulled meters. That can cause sparks when work is being done on them, but they usually see only one or two of those a year, and rarely do they result in serious fires like this one.

Blue Divider Line

2) A SCAM ALERT FOR ALL OF THOSE GETTING ESTIMATES BILLS, from a member. Hopefully everyone kept their April 1 meter reading.

My bill arrived the other day and I almost fell over! It is close to $200. when my bills have always been about $35 to $40. previously. My first thought was that it must be a mistake, but on closer examination I see the scam they are pulling. My meter has not been read since last November. I did email a photo for December, but then they closed that loophole. So, from mid-December to mid-April all the bills have been estimates. Low estimates. Now the meter reader came on May 16th, and of course my consumption appears to have suddenly skyrocketed. This is absolutely not the case because, with more hours of daylight I spend more and more time outside and use significantly less power. Therefore, all those underestimated kilowatt hours have been charged at not only the increased rate, but also at the higher tier, as if I had used them all in the past month!

Needless to say, I am not having it! A letter is being written stating that I will not pay until they correct their ``error``.
But, as you mentioned, these things will be happening to millions of people, many of whom will not even notice if the amount is small.

Others who are on automatic billing will simply be robbed. We need to make sure everyone gets this message because if we do not Hydro will get away with it. They are playing us for suckers and it is just not right.

Source:  This came by email, so there is no link.

Blue Divider Line

B.C. government to review role of utilities commission
By Rob Shaw, Vancouver Sun April 28, 2014

B.C. government to review role of utilities commission

Energy Minister Bill Bennett said Monday an independent task force would probe how to make the B.C. Utilities Commission more efficient and effective, and report back by Nov. 17.

VICTORIA — The B.C. government has launched a review of the province’s utilities watchdog, as it prepares to hand back power to oversee electricity rates.

Energy Minister Bill Bennett said Monday an independent task force would probe how to make the B.C. Utilities Commission more efficient and effective, and report back by Nov. 17.

The commission is B.C.’s independent regulatory agency, with technical power to approve or reject electricity rate increases proposed by BC Hydro.

However, it has frequently been overruled and bypassed by the provincial government in recent years, which has instead used executive powers to set Hydro rates and exempt billions in capital projects from commission oversight.

A 10-year Hydro rate plan previously approved by Bennett will see electricity rates rise a total of 28 per cent over the first five years, starting with a nine-per-cent increase this month. That will add an average $96 to an average residential Hydro bill in 2014.

Bennett has promised to give the utilities commission back the power to set rates starting in 2016, but he also has imposed caps on any increases until 2019.

“I want the BCUC to review rates,” Bennett said on Monday.

The government also is launching a review of the fairness of industrial, commercial and residential Hydro rates. Some large industrial users, such as mills and school boards, have complained the rate increases will cost them millions and are unfair.

NDP energy critic John Horgan scoffed at a review of a utilities commission the government has tried to ignore.

“I think it’s kind of a rear-guard action by a government that’s completely lost confidence in an independent assessment of their actions,” said Horgan. “They’d prefer to blame the messenger, than blame themselves.”

The Liberal government chose to sideline the regulator for the last five years, exempting BC Hydro from oversight in billions of dollars worth of projects, such as smart-meter upgrades, the Northwest Transmission Line and the Site C dam, he said.

“The government is saying they are trying to strengthen the regulator when they’ve neutered it,” said Horgan.

Bennett said the government, not the commission, should decide whether to proceed with major power projects as part of its energy policy.

Mark Jaccard, a former utilities commission chairman, agreed with Bennett. He pointed to the Site C dam project, which is an $8-billion proposal to be built near Fort St. John but would also flood large swaths of nearby land.

“Site C should not be a decision of the utilities commission,” said Jacaard. “We need political leaders taking responsibility for that. We don’t want technocrats making decisions like that on behalf of society. You can’t say there’s a correct value in flooding a valley, that’s a political decision.”

Jaccard, who now teaches at Simon Fraser University, said he supports the government review, adding it is a good idea to look at the efficiency of the commission.

The three task force members include Peter Ostergaard, a former senior government energy official and past commission chairman; Michael Costello, a former BC Hydro president and deputy finance minister; and R. Brian Wallace, an energy regulatory lawyer.

Bennett called them “three eminent and knowledgeable” appointees. Jaccard said he couldn’t think of three better officials to review the commission.

The task force will try and address what Bennett’s ministry said are rising costs and delays plaguing the commission’s rulings.

rshaw "at" vancouversun.com

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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.pdf icon BC Hydro's Legacy Meter Fee

*Note* Below are just snippets, click link above for entire content

According to BC Hydro, travel is a significant portion of the meter reading cost in both rural and urban areas because meters requiring manual reads are dispersed throughout the service territory. (found on page 35)

3.6.3 Travel Costs
Travel costs incurred by an FMA when reading meters in remote locations include airfare, ferries, lodging and meals. BC Hydro submits that currently these costs are about $120,000 per year and a decrease to $100,000 per year is assumed. It states that these costs “are not expected to change significantly from their current level as the need for manual meter reads decreases over time, since the underlying geographic region is not expected to change materially.” BC Hydro has allocated these costs on a weighted basis to both non-WAN customers and customers choosing to participate in the Program. Accordingly, travel costs are estimated at between $0.64 per read (based on 5,000 Meter Choices customers) to about $0.41 per read (based on 20,000 Meter Choices customers). (Exhibit B-1, p. 3-21) (found on page 34)

==============

Commission Determination's

Section 4.2.2 (page 55)

The Panel has considered circumstances where BC Hydro reads a meter less frequently than bimonthly but bills the customer a monthly charge to recover the costs of bi-monthly meter reading and determines that making such a charge is unjust and unreasonable. Accordingly, in the event that a Program customer’s meter is read less frequently than bi-monthly the portion of the Monthly Charge attributable to bi-monthly meter reading costs, as approved elsewhere in this decision, must not be charged. The Panel directs BC Hydro to develop a solution to ensure these charges are just and reasonable, and only reflect meter reading costs for the frequency of actual meter readings. In developing its solution BC Hydro should also consider how, if subsequent to the date that the interim rates came into effect, a meter has been read less frequently than monthly, it will apply the retroactive adjustment in a just and reasonable manner. This proposed solution must be filed for review with the Commission on or before June 30, 2014.

======================

Monthly Charges (page 55)

Radio-off Meter Customers $20.00
Legacy Meter Customers $32.40

=======================

The Panel accepts that the average cost of attending a customer’s premises and the associated call centre cost are the appropriate amounts to be applied in the failed installation charge.
Accordingly, the Panel finds the failed installation charge of $65.00 ($10.00 plus $55.00) to be just and reasonable and approves the charge in that amount as proposed by BC Hydro.

======================

Therefore, the Commission Panel finds BC Hydro’s estimate of the savings in response to the Wong IR to be reasonable and agrees that the Monthly Charge applicable to Program legacy meter customers should reflect a credit of $1.03. The Panel directs BC Hydro to establish a Monthly Charge for the Program legacy meter customers of $32.40 ($5.25 capital component and $28.18 operating component reduced by $1.03 to account for the deferred capital cost saving).

======================

To be clear, a Program radio-off meter customer who moves to a new premises and requests a radio-off meter at the new premises will be charged $55 as an exit charge related to the previous premises and $77.60 as an initial charge at the new premises.
The Panel notes that BC Hydro did not request recovery of costs incurred to replace a legacy meter with a smart meter at the old premises when a Program legacy meter customer moves and remains enrolled in the Program.

======================

The Panel is not persuaded that the assumed cost savings and proposed benefits of self-reading are sufficient to outweigh stated costs and the concerns expressed by BC Hydro. Accordingly, the Panel will not approve a self-read program for Program customers. On the other hand, there may be circumstances where a discrete group of customers, perhaps in a semi isolated location collectively decide to maintain legacy meters and offer to self-read. In a case like this BC Hydro currently accommodates a very small amount of self-reading. In the event that BC Hydro continues this practice with regard to Program customers, which BC Hydro is not required to do, the outcome of the review of the filing ordered in Section 4.2.2 of this Decision would apply.

======================

CEC suggests establishing rates for 2014 based on BC Hydro’s proposed prediction of 10,000 customers for the 2014 period, and setting pre-established higher annual rates in the order of $11 or $12 for each of the next two years for Program legacy meter customers and $4.50 to $5.00 for Program radio-off meter customers and recommends that the Commission do so to provide a smooth transition to the most likely cost of the Program.

========================

The legacy meter conditions provide that the customer will be able to retain a legacy meter until the Measurement Canada meter seal expires or the meter ceases to function properly, whichever happens first. If the meter seal expires, or the meter should cease to function properly, BC Hydro will exchange this meter with a replacement legacy meter as long as BC Hydro has a suitable meter in its inventory.

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Concerned about information sharing
Kelowna Daily Courier Monday, 07 April 2014

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Another smart meter secret is out in the open. Maybe the first of many?

My IQ is over 50, but I could never figure out how a smart meter could tell  me how to conserve my electrical cravings.

A huge rate increase would be a motivator, but still, the meter was to show me how to cut my usage beyond the 2,700 plus watts of lighting I've already removed and seen little downward trend on my bills.

But now I know, and I will share it with the rest of my fellow electrical connections.

The answer was made and printed in the Emirates 24/7 News March 30 in an interview with Dr. Yousef Ebrahim Al Akraf, the executive vice-president, business support and human resources with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa).
The article stated: "He added that with the smart meters and smart applications, customers would soon be able to monitor their energy consumption."

One of the initiatives will be the sharing of the stats with neighbours, which will encourage people to conserve energy.

"We will be sending customers' statistics of energy consumption by their neighbours. This will inform them of energy consumption and if their use is high to encourage them to rationalize consumption to reduce their monthly bills."

This statement was taken from the article: "Why is your Dewa bill so high? Dubai's smart meters now help you find out."
So, folks, we now can have a friendly competition in the neighbourhood.

Who can afford the highest consumption or who is the tightest on the block? Interesting.

Sure glad this will pass the privacy acts. Was it part of the last smart meter seminar in Bangkok last May?

I wonder how many more little secrets we will slowly be exposed to, or the sneak attack of the same.

I wonder when governments will tell us what we should really know about what these meters will tell all about our privacy?

R.J. Brown,
West Kelowna

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BC Hydro says it doesn't know what it costs to read meters.


click each page to read larger print

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ANYBODY ELSE NOT GET A HYDRO BILL in Dec 2013?

Jan 2, 2014 we called BC Hydro asking where our BC Hydro Bill was.  We are still on the old analogue meter.  We were told that the meter reader had not read our meter since June 2013 despite getting bills from Hydro in August and October 2013.  We notice now on our October 2013 BC Hydro bill that it does say its just an estimate and its in smaller print.  We never noticed that small print before.  We were wondering why our bill always seems to be about the same despite thinking we used more electricity than that, and now we know why.  We are not on the averaging system so our bill should fluctuate.  Hydro said they could send us a bill with the meter reading we phoned in on Dec 13, 2013, and that BC Hydro will not be taking a reading until Feb 2014.  We asked for a bill with our meter reading on it.

When we first tried to phone in our meter reading on Dec 9, 2013 BC Hydro would not take our reading unless the reading was to even up payment for the averaging system.  We are not on the averaging system and our bill is suppose to fluctuate with the amount of power we use.  After being rejected by BC Hydro and having a customer service company hired by Hydro query us about the problem we had with BC Hydro taking our meter reading, we heard that BC Hydro was taking readings from customers so we phoned our meter reading in again on Dec 13, 2013 and BC Hydro took our reading then.  But still why did we not receive a bill in Dec 2013.  Hydro never misses sending us a bill in years?  Why didn't BC Hydro just estimate our bill like they have been doing since June 2013, or use our meter reading we phoned in?  BC Hydro hasn't missed sending us a bill since May 2006.

You can see on this BC Hydro bill below that the new Legacy Meter charge came into effect.  BC Hydro pro-rated the Legacy Meter Charge on this bill.  Stupid thing is that Hydro didn't even read the meter and is still charging for reading the meter.  Notice the bill says quote, "Your bill shows an estimate".
BC Hydro told us that the Legacy Meter fee is for the following:

1. Reading the old meter

2. Maintenance of the old meter

3. Making sure the old meter functions correctly

4. keeping personnel

BC Hydro's new legacy meter charge started Dec 2, 2013 and is prorated on the first BC Hydro bill it applies to.  We didn't get this bill in the mailbox until Jan 21, 2014, a whole month late.
click bill for a larger image

BC Utilities Commission website

How to make a complaint to the BCUC

Email your complaint to the BCUC: Complaints "at" bcuc.com

Or make a complaint to Revenue Canada about having to pay GST for a service you did not receive.

 

We phoned in our meter reading on Dec 9 and 13, 2013 but did not receive a bill in Dec 2013 until we phoned BC Hydro Jan 2, 2014 and asked to have a bill mailed.  Apparently this October 2013 bill is only an estimated bill by BC Hydro because they hadn't read the meter since June 2013.  We are not on the averaging system.  BC Hydro did finally send us a bill (bill above) that we received in our mailbox on Jan 21, 2014, which was a full month late.  We complained to BC Hydro about paying for a service we did not get.  The bill says "Your bill shows an estimate", which means BC Hydro did not come out to read the old analogue meter.  We phoned in our meter reading of 87567 but that is not what the meter reading on the Jan 15, 2014 reads.
October 2013 BC Hydro Bill was an estimate when we are not on the averaging system.
click the bill to see a larger image

 

You can see on this bill from August 15, 2013 that it does say, "Your bill shows an estimate"

click the bill to see a larger image

 

You can see on this bill from June 2013 that it DOES NOT say, "Your bill shows an estimate"
BC Hydro really hasn't read our meter since June 12, 2013 like BC Hydro told us on the phone.

click bill for a larger image

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This is an excerpt from BC Hydro’s Meter Choices Application that explains how the meter choices fees were calculated by BC Hydro.

“In providing customers with these meter options, BC Hydro will incur both capital and operating costs. These include costs related to customer account processing, additions and modifications to information technology infrastructure, additional telecom infrastructure, attendance at the customer premises for manual meter downloads/reads, and attendance at a customer premises for the replacement of either the legacy meter or the radio-off meter with a smart meter should the customer ultimately move out or request a smart meter. Recovery of these costs from the eligible customers who choose either a radio-off or legacy meter, as contemplated by Direction No. 4, forms the basis of the proposed standard charges.”


Page 34 of BC Hydro’s Meter Choices Application, available at:

.pdf icon http://www.bcuc.com/Documents/Proceedings/2013/DOC_36245_B-1_BCH_Application-MeterChoicesProgram.pdf

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Not all Smart Meters on the grid
Okanagan Advertiser - Submitted by Stacy Pavlov on Fri, 2014-01-03

After installing hundreds of thousands of digital Smart Meters, BC Hydro still has meter readers on the ground as some meters aren’t yet electronically communicating.

Jackie Pearase, who lives in rural Enderby, said Hydro can’t yet read her meter via electronic communication, and she wonders if others are having the same issue.

“How many others along Mabel Lake Road can’t they read? Here they are charging all those people to read their analog meters, but they’re not charging me because I have a Smart Meter,” Pearase said in relation to those who’ve opted to keep their old analog meter.

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Majority of smart meter holdouts bow to BC Hydro
CBC News - Dec 16, 2013

$35 monthly surcharge for 19,000 customers keeping old meters went into effect Dec. 2

 

48,240 Elected to take a smart meter 71%
6,270 Elected to retain the old legacy meter 9%
450 Elected to take a radio-off meter 1%
13,110 Did not contact BC Hydro 19%
source: BC Hydro

A majority of BC Hydro customers who initially said they weren't on board with the switch to so-called smart meters have capitulated in the face of additional monthly fees.

BC Hydro submitted the breakdown of what former smart meter holdouts have agreed to in its recent submission to the B.C. Utilities Commission. The commission is reviewing the fees BC Hydro has proposed to charge customers who insist on using what it calls "legacy meters" under the Meter Choices Program.

Thousands of B.C. residents objected to the mandatory installation of the wireless smart meters when the program was announced, citing concerns about health and privacy.

BC Hydro said Monday that of 68,070 customers who had the option of making a choice to refuse a smart meter since the summer, 48,240 customers elected to switch to the new meters. The utility company says 6,270 customers insisted on keeping the old meters; 450 opted for smart meters with the radio-transmission capability disabled; and 13,110 did not contact BC Hydro and will keep the old meters by default.

The numbers show that more than 70 per cent of the 68,000 customers who did not have a smart meter last summer and who registered dissent with BC Hydro opted, in the end, to take a smart meter.

Just under 10 per cent of the group were firm in their decision to keep their old meters, and roughly 20 per cent did not get back in touch with BC Hydro, and will also keep their old meters by default.

At the beginning of December, BC Hydro started charging a $35 monthly surcharge from each of those 19,380 customers, or 30 per cent of the holdouts. BC Hydro says those keeping the old meters represent about one per cent of all BC Hydro customers.

Another 450 customers opted for a "radio-off" smart meter, which will cost them a $100 installation fee and a $20 monthly surcharge that goes into effect in April.

BC Hydro said it needs to charge additional fees to customers who want to use the old meters or who will accept a new meter but only with its radio-transmission capabilities turned off. The fees are meant to cover the additional cost of collecting electricity use data manually from meters that won't be transmitting the data wirelessly.

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BC Hydro rates to leap as debt problems persist
By Justine Hunter - The Globe and Mail, Victoria - Tuesday, Nov. 26 2013

BC Hydro rates will jump over the next two years, bringing small monthly increases for residences and thousands more for industry, as the provincial government attempts to put the Crown corporation back on a stable financial footing.

But the increases of 15.6 per cent over the next two years don’t cover the true cost of running Hydro: B.C. Energy Minister Bill Bennett says the government will create a new “regulatory account” to defer $1-billion in rate hikes until some time after the next provincial election.

Hydro’s customers, large and small, blamed political interference from Victoria for the wild swings in rates. Rates were almost frozen in the lead-up to the May provincial election. Now, Mr. Bennett says rates must rise to tackle the Crown corporation’s growing debt and to upgrade its aging infrastructure.

“I said BC Hydro rates would go up,” Mr. Bennett told reporters in Victoria, but he maintained they are being kept “at the lowest level possible.” While rates are not rising as fast as predicted – a leaked Hydro document suggested they could rise by 26 per cent over two years – the average household will pay almost $14 per month more by April, 2015.

“If you are a low-income earner, it’s going to have a significant impact. We’re already seeing a lot of people having difficulty paying their current hydro bills,” said Tannis Braithwaite of the B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

Some major customers are also worried. Hydro’s largest industrial customer is Catalyst Paper, which came out of creditor protection last year and remains in a precarious financial state. The company will see its power bill rise by $2-million per month once the second year of rate hikes is implemented. Lyn Brown, Catalyst’s vice-president for marketing, said the government needs to find ways to mitigate that kind of rate shock. “We are looking for solutions that can be implemented in the near term,” she added.

Prior to the provincial election this year, the B.C. Liberal government cancelled an independent rate review and set the annual increase at 1.4 per cent. Next April, the rate will climb by 9 per cent. Without the new rate-smoothing account, however, the increase would be 13.7 per cent. That “would have been unbearable, particularly for industrial customers,” Mr. Bennett said.

Mr. Bennett vowed his government will do its part by reducing its reliance on Hydro dividends to balance its own budget. “There is a commitment for government to take less,” he said. But that belt-tightening won’t begin until 2018. Over the next three years, the province will collect $3-billion in taxes, grants, water rentals and dividends from Hydro.

Jim Quail is the lawyer for the union representing the bulk of Hydro’s workers, the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union Local 378. He said the government energy plan fails to address the Crown’s escalating costs or rate stability for consumers.

“It’s a good idea to have a 10-year plan, if it was to smooth rates over time,” he said. “But that’s not what is happening here. It’s a political plan, they have front-end-loaded the pain, and it eases up before the next election.”

In the third year of Mr. Bennett’s plan, the utility’s independent regulator will finally be allowed to review Hydro rates once more, although within government-imposed caps. If the maximum rates are approved, that would add up to roughly 28-per-cent rate hikes over five years.

Richard Stout, executive director of the Association of Major Power Customers of B.C., applauded the commitment to return some control to the B.C. Utilities Commission. But he said the government will have to do more to help industry adapt to the new rates. “There are some electricity-intensive industries that cannot survive this magnitude of a rate increase.”

Mr. Bennett, meanwhile, has maintained cabinet control over B.C. Hydro’s long-term energy plan, approving this week the Crown’s “integrated resource plan.” David Austin, an energy industry lawyer, said that document “is not worth the paper it’s written on.” Hydro is only planning for minimal extra capacity to accommodate the huge potential demand from liquefied natural gas. “BC Hydro thinks that the electricity requirements for the LNG industry and related development in the gas fields is somebody is else’s problem.”

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BC HYDRO INFO BULLETIN

Dec 16, 2013

BC Hydro submits smart meter options enrollment numbers to BCUC

BC Hydro submitted to the BC Utilities Commission today the enrollment figures for the Meter Choices Program.

The Commission is in the process of independently reviewing fees for the choices to ensure BC Hydro is only recovering the additional cost of providing and servicing the radio-off and analog options.

The Meter Choices fees were approved on an interim basis by the Commission in October. If the final fees differ from the interim rate, BC Hydro will adjust customers' bills accordingly.

About 68,000 customers had the option of making a choice as part of the Meter Choices Program. Of these customers:

48,240 customers elected to take a smart meter;
6,270 customers elected to retain the old legacy meter; and
450 customers elected to take a radio-off meter.
The remaining 13,110 customers did not contact BC Hydro and will retain the old legacy meter by default.

In total, about 19,380 customers will now have a monthly legacy meter fee – this represents one per cent of the total number of BC Hydro customers. Those fees were effective Dec. 2, 2013. Customers who requested a radio-off meter will see the fees applied April 1, 2014.

BC Hydro expects the enrollment numbers to evolve over the coming months as the utility continues to confirm customers' choices.

Adding another 48,240 smart meters to the system will bring the number of BC Hydro customers benefitting from the modernized grid to 99 per cent.

Modernizing the electricity grid plays a crucial role in BC Hydro’s plan to provide a secure and reliable power system for customers all over the province. Once complete, a modernized grid will help BC Hydro improve its management of the electricity system, lower costs, reduce theft, encourage conservation and automatically detect outages.

Examples of benefits already being provided by the modernized grid include:

95 per cent of customers with smart meters have been transitioned to automated billing.
90 per cent of customers with smart meters can view their detailed energy use through their secure online MyHydro account – helping them to save energy and money.
2,100 pre-existing unsafe meter socket conditions on customers’ homes were repaired by a certified electrician at no cost to the homeowner.
Last summer, the Province of B.C. announced three choices for residential customers who still did not have a smart meter installed:

a standard smart meter at no cost;
a radio-off meter for a $100 set-up fee and $20 monthly fee; and
keeping an old meter for a $35 monthly fee as long as stocks last.

The fees to retain an old meter or choose a radio-off meter ensure the vast majority of customers who have accepted a smart meter are not subsidizing the choices of a very small number of customers.

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UTILITIES COMMISSION ACT
This Act has "Not in Force" sections. See the Table of Legislative Changes.
[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 473
This Act is current to Sept 10, 2014

Discrimination in rates
59 (1) A public utility must not make, demand or receive

(a) an unjust, unreasonable, unduly discriminatory or unduly preferential rate for a service provided by it in British Columbia, or
(b) a rate that otherwise contravenes this Act, the regulations, orders of the commission or any other law.
(2) A public utility must not
(a) as to rate or service, subject any person or locality, or a particular description of traffic, to an undue prejudice or disadvantage, or
(b) extend to any person a form of agreement, a rule or a facility or privilege, unless the agreement, rule, facility or privilege is regularly and uniformly extended to all persons under substantially similar circumstances and conditions for service of the same description.
(3) The commission may, by regulation, declare the circumstances and conditions that are substantially similar for the purpose of subsection (2) (b).

(4) It is a question of fact, of which the commission is the sole judge,
(a) whether a rate is unjust or unreasonable,
(b) whether, in any case, there is undue discrimination, preference, prejudice or disadvantage in respect of a rate or service, or
(c) whether a service is offered or provided under substantially similar circumstances and conditions.
(5) In this section, a rate is "unjust" or "unreasonable" if the rate is
(a) more than a fair and reasonable charge for service of the nature and quality provided by the utility,
(b) insufficient to yield a fair and reasonable compensation for the service provided by the utility, or a fair and reasonable return on the appraised value of its property, or
(c) unjust and unreasonable for any other reason.

Setting of rates
60 (1) In setting a rate under this Act

(a) the commission must consider all matters that it considers proper and relevant affecting the rate,
(b) the commission must have due regard to the setting of a rate that
(i) is not unjust or unreasonable within the meaning of section 59,
(ii) provides to the public utility for which the rate is set a fair and reasonable return on any expenditure made by it to reduce energy demands, and
(iii) encourages public utilities to increase efficiency, reduce costs and enhance performance,
(b.1) the commission may use any mechanism, formula or other method of setting the rate that it considers advisable, and may order that the rate derived from such a mechanism, formula or other method is to remain in effect for a specified period, and
(c) if the public utility provides more than one class of service, the commission must
(i) segregate the various kinds of service into distinct classes of service,
(ii) in setting a rate to be charged for the particular service provided, consider each distinct class of service as a self contained unit, and
(iii) set a rate for each unit that it considers to be just and reasonable for that unit, without regard to the rates set for any other unit.

(2) In setting a rate under this Act, the commission may take into account a distinct or special area served by a public utility with a view to ensuring, so far as the commission considers it advisable, that the rate applicable in each area is adequate to yield a fair and reasonable return on the appraised value of the plant or system of the public utility used, or prudently and reasonably acquired, for the purpose of providing the service in that special area.
(3) If the commission takes a special area into account under subsection (2), it must have regard to the special considerations applicable to an area that is sparsely settled or has other distinctive characteristics.
(4) For this section, the commission must exclude from the appraised value of the property of the public utility any franchise, licence, permit or concession obtained or held by the utility from a municipal or other public authority beyond the money, if any, paid to the municipality or public authority as consideration for that franchise, licence, permit or concession, together with necessary and reasonable expenses in procuring the franchise, licence, permit or concession.

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Facts being misrepresented on analog hydro-meter fees
By Tony Brumell, The Province - November 19, 2013

I recently sent a letter to the B.C. Utilities Commission decrying B.C. Hydro's extortionary charges, $35 a month, to keep and maintain my analog hydro meter.

Further to that letter, I met and talked with the person who reads the analog meters for Terasen Gas, who told me that he is paid 40 cents per meter and works for a firm called Ola Meters Inc. that does contract meter-reading in North America. He said the company can read any kind of meter. When B.C. Hydro says that the $35 monthly fee is not revenue generating or punitive, I believe it is misrepresenting the facts.

Historically, the meters have always been physically read every other month and the cost was such that it was included in the normal monthly charges.

For that cost to now approach the cost of energy used is not rational and must be stopped.

B.C. residents must stand up for their rights or they will lose them.

Call your MLA.
Tony Brumell
Kamloops

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BC Hydro rates going up 28% over five years
by Tom Fletcher - BC Local News - Nov 26, 2013

VICTORIA – The first of a series of BC Hydro rate increases takes effect in April 2014, adding $8 a month to the average residential power bill.

Rate increases of nine per cent next year and six per cent in 2015 are the highest of a series of increases over five years announced Monday by Energy Minister Bill Bennett. The B.C. Utilities Commission will be directed to set rate increases that total up to 28 per cent over the next five years, then determine what rates are needed for the following five years, Bennett said.

Commercial rates are going up the same amount.

Bennett acknowledged that rate increases are being kept low by using a "rate smoothing" account that defers more than $1 billion of the utility's debt. That account won't begin to be paid down until after 2020.

BC Hydro CEO Charles Reid said the latest rate increases are driven mainly by a large increase in capital spending, including seismic refits of old dams at Campbell River and Ruskin, turbine expansions at two Kootenay power dams and other upgrades. BC Hydro's "big build" era of 1973 to 1982 produced rate increases totalling 113 per cent.

BC Hydro cited an annual survey by Hydro Quebec that shows BC Hydro customers currently pay the third lowest rates in North America. Montreal and Winnipeg customers pay less, and Seattle and Miami residents pay slightly more.

NDP energy critic John Horgan said Bennett avoided the impact of private power purchases on BC Hydro's rate increases.

"We're going to have increased debt for the next five years," Horgan said. "They're going to continue to take a dividend from a company that can't afford to pay one, and the consequences for people are going to be higher costs."

Bennett said the 10-year plan calls for the government to "wean itself off" dividends from the utility, but the five years of reductions don't start until 2018.

The government has instructed BC Hydro to shut down the gas-fired Burrard Thermal generating station in Port Moody by 2016, saving an estimated $14 million a year. The forecast electricity surplus over the 10-year plan allows that, but the facility will continue to be staffed for its grid stability function, Reid said.

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Discrimination in rates is illegal under the Utilities Commission Act (facebook)

By charging those of us with analogs that have to be manually read while not charging those with smeters that must be manually read we ARE being discriminated against. Why are commercial accountholders not being given the options that are being offered to residential clients? Why aren’t those with smart meters who don’t want them being given these options? (Of course, the latter is a prime argument in our class action) Please, when writing to the BCUC, the media, etc. consider raising this issue.

Discrimination in rates

59 (1) A public utility must not make, demand or receive

(a) an unjust, unreasonable, unduly discriminatory or unduly preferential rate for a service provided by it in British Columbia, or

(b) a rate that otherwise contravenes this Act, the regulations, orders of the commission or any other law.

(2) A public utility must not

(a) as to rate or service, subject any person or locality, or a particular description of traffic, to an undue prejudice or disadvantage, or

http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/00_96473_01#section59

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Hydro rates going up, 'but not 26%'
By Tom Fletcher - BC Local News - September 11, 2013

Energy Minister Bill Bennett
Black Press

VICTORIA – Energy Minister Bill Bennett has denied reports that BC Hydro rates are poised to go up more than 26 per cent in the next two years.

Bennett was peppered with questions Wednesday after one of BC Hydro's unions released an internal BC Hydro document suggesting a 19 per cent rate increase next year and another six per cent the following year. The compounding effect would produce an increase of 26.4 per cent over two years.

Bennett said the document was prepared for a ministry committee working with BC Hydro on electricity rates, and has been revised three times since the leaked version was created in August. He said the committee has found ways to reduce the rate increases needed to cover extensive construction and other costs for the utility, but he wouldn't put a number on the prospective rate increases.

The work includes identifying 19 independent power projects whose power purchase agreements are to either be cancelled or deferred.

NDP energy critic John Horgan said BC Liberal interference has led to the current situation.

"Expensive private power contracts, billions in Hydro debt hidden in deferral accounts, a sidelining of the independent B.C. Utilities Commission, an 84 per cent cost overrun on the Northwest Transmission Line," Horgan said. "There is no question that the Liberal government has mismanaged BC Hydro."

Bennett acknowledged that the government's 2011 intervention to cap rate increases below four per cent for two years has increased the pressure on today's rates. BC Hydro had been proposing rate hikes of more than nine per cent for 2012 and 2013.

"I think we are feeling the impact of decades of difficult decisions by successive governments, Socreds, NDP, BC Liberal," Bennett said. "All of us have difficulty looking the ratepayer directly in the eye and saying, by the way, we're going to increase your rates by X."

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Our BC Hydro bill is only about $80 per month and BC Hydro wants to charge $70 to read the meter for an $80 Hydro bill??

The BC Utilities Commission better put a stop to BC Hydro trying to rape people of their money!!!


Click bill for a larger copy

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Smart meter holdouts face stiff fees from BC Hydro
By Jeff Nagel - Peace Arch News - September 13, 2013

BC Hydro says it has installed 1.8 million smart meters, with less than four per cent of customers refusing them.

It won't be cheap for opponents of wireless smart meters to keep their old analog electricity meters.

BC Hydro says it will slap an extra $35 per month fee – $420 per year – on the roughly 60,000 smart meter holdouts for manual meter readings starting in December.

Those who don't want to pay that much have two cheaper options.

They can accept a wireless smart meter at no charge.

Or they can request a smart meter with the radio transmitter disabled for a one-time $100 charge and additional $20 per month fees starting April 1.

Either way, those who opt to stay off Hydro's smart grid will pay more.

BC Hydro has sent out letters to households that have refused smart meters outlining the options, along with a form to send back making their choice.

Those who make no choice will be assigned the $35-a-month default option.

"If you do not confirm your choice, BC Hydro will not exchange the meter at your home, and the monthly cost for keeping an old meter will be added to your BC Hydro bill," states the letter from Greg Reimer, executive vice-president of transmission and distribution.

The proposed charges must still be approved by the BC Utilities Commission.

Hydro officials say the fees offset the expense of adding infrastructure so the grid works as planned and the costs of manually performing services now automated by smart meters.

BC Hydro says those who keep old analog meters aren't guaranteed that will be an option indefinitely.

Crews will replace analog meters that break or their accuracy seals expire as long as the existing stock of old meters lasts.

If that supply runs out, or for people who move to a new home, the only option will be to accept a smart meter, either operating wirelessly or with the transmitter turned off.

Opposition group Citizens for Safe Technology calls the planned fees "extortionary" – noting they add up to as much as $25 million a year – and doubts regulators will be able to justify them.

"Why should we pay not to have something harmful put on our homes?" the group said in a message to supporters, recommending they not return the forms.

"Hydro believes that this announcement will push more customers to accept what they do not want or need. Many are understandably upset and confused by this latest ultimatum."

CST also argues there's no guarantee radio-off meters won't still radiate or that Hydro won't reactivate the transmitters without customer consent.

Smart meter opponents are also trying to launch a class action lawsuit to force a reasonable permanent no-fee opt out, noting people who move may find a wireless smart meter already exists in their new home, against their wishes.

Their action demands free choice "without extortive fees, coercion or conditions designed to intimidate."

More than 1.8 million smart meters have been installed, leaving less than four per cent of Hydro customers without one.

Blue Divider Line

.pdf icon August 26, 2013 Highlights of the Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting

There was nothing mentioned in the Highlights about Item 5.1 Fortis BC Regarding Okanagan Energy Diet Update

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio August 26, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (11.9 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files August 26, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.1 Fortis BC Regarding Okanagan Energy Diet Update - .wma (5.92 MB)

.pdf icon August 26, 2013 Regional District of Central Okanagan Regular Board Meeting Minutes

5. DELEGATION

5.1 Fortis BC re: Okanagan Energy Diet Update
Carol Suhan, FortisBC, provided an overview of Fortis BC's Okanagan Energy Diet project.
• Fortis BC serves City of Kelowna and Electoral Area East
• Talks are in the works with BC Hydro regarding the project for other areas within the region.
• 75% energy used in homes is used for space and hot water heating. To save energy we need to address this issue.
• The program started in Rossland, BC which had a high average energy usage and worked to overcome barriers in that region. 1,100 single family homes were eligible for the program. 22% participated. 80% of homes made significant improvements to their homes.
• The program was launched in the Kootenay's earlier this year. It has been an unqualified success as well.
• Now looking at communities in the Okanagan.
• Home assessments normally cost $350... program incentive is $60. Bonus structure being tested. Financing available through Fortis BC.
• Program is being launched in September. Upgrades to be completed by March 31, 2014.
• Looking for morale support - it is a good project. Spread the word.
• Local governments, if contributing to the program, can count the energy savings towards their emission reduction.
It was noted that the Regional District, unlike municipalities, is unable to provide financial support to the program but supports the program in principle.

STACK/HANSON
THAT the presentation by Fortis BC on the Okanagan Energy Diet project be received;
AND FURTHER THAT the Regional Board in principle supports the program.

CARRIED

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.mp3 file icon - click here for help with audio August 26, 2013 audio of entire RDCO Board meeting - .mp3 (11.9 MB)

Click this Windows Media Audio icon for help with audio files August 26, 2013 audio of RDCO Board meeting only about Item 5.1 Fortis BC Regarding Okanagan Energy Diet Update - .wma (5.92 MB)

Blue Divider Line

Wind energy touted as clean solution to B.C.’s power needs
By Jas Johal - Global News - June 25, 2013

A clean energy choice is being touted as the solution to meet growing energy demands in this province.

Wind farms are a low-cost and relatively low-impact energy supply.

While there are already several in the province, many more are needed to meet B.C.’s new industrial opportunities.

Near Tumbler Ridge, Capital Power’s wind farm isn’t too difficult to find. Here, 79 turbines dot the landscape.

Constructed in 2012, the farm now churns out enough energy to power 46,000 homes.

It’s one of three wind farms in B.C., with a fourth expected to be completed by the end of the year.

It’s just the start, as many in the industry are expecting billions of dollars in new projects to move forward this decade.

“We have everything in place,” says Nicholas Heap of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

“What we need is the opportunity to provide that electricity to B.C.”

The opportunity for clean energy is being re-kindled by old world energy sources.

Wind power producers want to power the next generation of B.C. mines and liquefied natural gas facilities.

Powering LNG will need tremendous amounts of energy.

At the moment, the government is looking seriously looking at building the controversial Site C dam along the Peace River just south of Fort St. John to power its LNG ambitions.

Clean energy producers are desperately hoping wind farms can be built to ride the multi-billion dollar LNG wave.

“When we look at LNG, upstream oil and gas, new mines – all of these are extremely energy intensive and all of these can be electrified,” says Heap.

Part of the enthusiasm comes from a clean energy renaissance in the United States, where wind power installations have been booming for six years.

Global adoption has led to technology improvement, made turbines more efficient and driven drown costs by twenty percent, making wind power significantly more cost competitive.

Currently just 1 per cent of the electricity generated in B.C. comes from wind energy. The industry wants to change that over the next decade to 17 per cent.

In order to achieve that, B.C. would go from four wind farms to forty.

The numbers may be low today, but Paul Kariya of the Clean Energy Association of B.C. says power derived from clean energy will play a major role in the province’s future generating capacity.

A major reason for our low wind power use can be blamed on decisions made by WAC Bennett.

BC Hydro’s extensive network has provided reliable power for decades.

We overbuilt and have reaped the rewards.

But now, our needs our growing again significantly because of LNG.

Private sector power producers were encouraged to build by the BC Liberals last decade, with the guarantee.

BC Hydro would sign lucrative contracts to buy the power.

Critics have said the public utility is over-paying now when it could purchase the power from the open market for a fraction of the cost, essentially subsidizing private business.

Many worry the same might happen with wind power.

“You’ve got take a long term view, if you were to look six months ago today, indeed the prices paid for long term power is higher than what we call the spot market,” says Kariya.

While the talk will continue surrounding B.C.’s widening energy gap and how it will be supplied.

Blue Divider Line

Smart meter dispute leads to disconnection
Peachland news - Apr 17th, 2013 - by Dave Preston

Update. . . A BC Hydro spokesperson said the reason power was disconnected from a Peachland home Wednesday had everything to do with safety.

“This is a really dangerous situation,” said Cindy Verschoor. “BC Hydro could be liable for anything that went wrong if we knowingly supplied power to a meter that was bought on the Internet, was not installed by BC Hydro and is not approved for use in Canada.”

Verschoor said BC Hydro would be unable to install an analog meter at the Stutters’ home because they no longer stock them.

“95 per cent of our customers have smart meters,” said Verschoor.

Disconnecting power is “the last thing we ever want to do,” Verschoor said, adding she has never heard of a situation like the Stutters.

========================

BC Hydro reps at Stutters house
Debbie Stutters talks to BC Hydro representatives at her home in Peachland Wednesday afternoon.

A Peachland couple ran afoul of BC Hydro and now their power has been disconnected.

Representatives of BC Hydro visited the home of Debbie Stutters Wednesday afternoon and told her to accept the installation of a smart meter or her power would be cut off.

The story of Stutters and her husband Don has a unique twist: they removed a previously installed smart meter and replaced it with an analog meter they purchased from an American company. That didn’t sit well with BC Hydro, who said the meter had to go or they would have no choice but to disconnect the couple’s power.

Stutters said a BC Hydro representative came to her door in May of 2012 to let her know that the existing analog meter was broken and would require replacing.

Hydro linesman cuts power to Stutters' home
A linesman cuts power to the Stutters’ home.

She said she specifically asked the representative not to install a smart meter, because she was EMF (electromagnetic frequency) sensitive.

“He said, no, we’ll put another analog (meter) in,” Stutters said. “Within days, a smart meter was put on.”

Stutters said she and her husband were upset at the new smart meter. She said her sensitivity has meant she doesn’t use cellphones and does not own cordless phones.

“We phoned BC Hydro a number of times to have them realize we need them to take it off because of my health,” said Stutters. “They said they couldn’t do anything about it.”

Then last year, BC Hydro held an information session in Peachland, at the request of Peachland council, to talk about smart meters. Stutters said the spokesperson told the crowd the company would respect those customers who don’t want smart meters at the time.

Stutter's analog meter
This analog meter installed by the Stutters is illegal, according to BC Hydro.

BC Hydro continued to refuse to replace the smart meter with an analog meter, according to Stutters.

The couple purchased an analog meter from an American company and on March 16, they switched the meters on their own.

“We’re not rebels by any stretch,” said Stutters, adding they shipped the smart meter back to BC Hydro by registered mail.

Almost immediately, BC Hydro contacted the couple, both on the phone and by showing up at the Stutters’ McLaughlan Place residence.

“They kept threatening,” said Stutters, explaining they were given a choice of either having a smart meter installed or having their power disconnected.

Wednesday morning Stutters’ husband Don received a call that a crew would be arriving in the afternoon to either install a smart meter or disconnect the power.

When the crew arrived, Stutters refused to allow a smart meter to be installed. After a 20-minute conversation with two BC Hydro representatives, a linesman in a cherry picker cut the wires to the Stutters’ house.

“Why aren’t we given the respect our neighbours are?” asked Stutters.

She said she knows of several neighbours near her home who have refused smart meters and BC Hydro has simply gone away.

Stutters asked if she could purchase a Canadian meter to be installed by BC Hydro technicians but that offer was turned down.

Until the matter gets sorted out, the Stutters will be left in the dark. Sort of.

“We have a generator,” said Stutters. “It’s going to be a little noisy.”

Stutters said beyond using their generator, “I don’t know what we’ll do.”

Peachland News is expecting comments from BC Hydro on this story. We’ll bring an update as soon as the information is received.

Blue Divider Line

Electrical bill shocker
Castanet.net - by Wayne Moore - Story: 88122 - Feb 28, 2013

Hundreds of people around the Okanagan are hot under the collar after seeing their latest electrical bill.

Many contacted Castanet News Thursday afternoon voicing their dissatisfaction and frustration over energy bills that are, in some instances, nearly twice what they were a year ago.

Many residential bills increased this year after the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) which oversees energy providers such as BC Hydro and FortisBC, asked providers to design a 'Conservation Rate.'

Neal Proban, Corporate Communications Advisor with FortisBC says the result was a two tier billing system.

"Tier one is up to 1,600 kilowatt hours every two months and tier two takes over after 1,600 kilowatt hours," says Proban.

"The reason behind that is because they (BCUC) wanted to find a way for residential customers to get an incentive if they saved electricity. By charging customers a lower rate they can actually save money."

Meters from the rich house to the poor house

The problem? People using more energy than 1600 kw/h per month, are paying more - a lot more. Not one person reported to Castanet that they were saving money even though they have gone to extremes to cut power consumption.

"Customers in tier one or, block one as we call it, the first 1,600 kw/h get charged 8.8038 cents and in block two it goes to 12.952 cents."

Mike Hlushko is one who is feeling the affects despite installing what he thought would be an energy saving, environmentally friendly Geo-Thermal system in the house he had built in 2005.

Hlushko says his electrical bill went from the $700 range a year ago to his latest bill $924.68.

"We thought we were doing the right thing and we're conscious about what we use," says Hlushklo.

"But, if you look at these bills from the last few years, its definitely put a dent in the extra money we're going to have every month if they keep using this system."

Hlushko says he's stuck because the Geo-Thermal system runs on electricity, he doesn't use natural gas.

"There's no other way we can save money in our home. We do turn lights off, we're very energy conscious."

Ironically, Hlushko says his Geo -Thermal system was down for two months last winter. His energy bill then was about $800 because they were on a back-up heat system.

"We used less power this year than last and, if you look at the numbers it was less money, but way more power usage exactly a year ago."

Proban says the rate structure is all about conservation.

"Our average customer uses between 2,100 and 2,500 kwh so their bill will stay about the same or drop a little bit. Anybody who is able to use under 1,600 is rewarded with the better rate. If they go above they will be charged more," says Proban.

Unfortunately, the utility company is not able to determine a profile of just what the average user looks like.

He adds that customers will probably notice an increase in the winter since that's when we tend to use more power, but a decrease in the summertime when consumption tends to dip below the 1,600 kwh threshold.

Despite the rationale dozens of people who emailed Castanet were not pleased with the bottom line.

Single person living in a townhouse that is under 1000 feet. Work 2 jobs, never home, turns all lights off when away. Doesn’t use the dishwasher. Does laundry once a week, Heat is set between 15-20 degrees all winter. It is electric heat. Last Hydro bill 304.38 !! Ludicrous for a single person using minimum heat water and lighting.
L. Thomas

I have seen my bill go from $38-46 every two months to over $260 for 38 days. I only have two rooms plus a bathroom and have EVERYTHING that is not being used unplugged all the time now. My neighbour has a larger home and his monthly hydro bill was over $900. A small increase I can understand but these seem to be an extraordinary amounts.
Fly600girl

My highest bill in the last 8 years has been $670.00 a couple of years ago when we had a cold winter. My last bill was $875.00 for 2 months. It has not even been a cold winter and I have been much more conscious the last couple of years when it comes to lights and hot water and power. We are absolutely being ripped off by Fortis. This is one of the biggest scams I have come across in years.
Wayne Deleurme

My home is a 2200 square foot home and I am trying to be very conservative with my elecrtiticy and my bill has gone up over 200 dollars from last year same time and my actual consumpiton on furance is down 40%. I had an independent come in to do an energy smart tesl and I am above the average on efficiency.
Krista Berrigan

I have a huge problem with this two tiered system. My personal residence Electric bill has increased appx $200 to $300 a billing period. Summer months are worse with AC running, on average I have a $350 increase over two months. Not very happy about it at all. My Bill used to be $300 to $350 and now it has gotten up as high as $650 one billing period. The largest problem is we have a rental on Big White. There is no gas furnaces on Big White so with Electric base board heaters the bill has increased from $550 every two months to as high as $1,134. This one was the largest shock.
Kyle Jones

Wow. Just Wow. Bill this month… $487! Last year - $285 – that is a 70% increase!!!
Cory Davidson

Upon receiving our Fortis electrical bill of $375.53. We were astounded to see that we were paying $180.32 more than the last bill. That is almost double. We are not using our furnace this year and are being careful in our consumption. There is no explanation about the huge raise except to say the rate has changed. The average current kWh/day is 49 compared to past year of 54 Kwh/day.
Herb and Clare


My bill was $600 for 2 months. My heat is never above 21 degrees and lights are always switched off. Disgusted. Apparently downstairs was close to $1000. I have never paid more than $150 for 2 months and i live exactly the same way. Of course when i phoned to complain they were less than helpful and basically told tough and to pay. It's terrible to see this happening to everyone.
Dave


Normally for the winter months our bill is about $220 for 2 months, this last bill was $320! All because of this new two-tiered system.
Sarah Lambert


We are really angry – we were away a total of 5 weeks during the last billing period so there was no laundry, no baking, no lights – nothing going on – and we set the thermostat at 65 degrees. We had an 8% reduction of kwh usage and a 14 % increase in the bill for the same period as last year!
Joyce Findlay

Here are bills sent to us from a reader (not Joyce Findlay) who lives in Joe Rich.

Blue Divider Line

Opt-out sought on smart meters
By Richard Rolke - Vernon Morning Star - May 16, 2012

Vernon officials don’t want smart meters forced on to anyone.

Council unanimously voted Monday to urge B.C. Hydro to develop an opt-out procedure for customers who don’t want the remote monitoring devices installed.

“I believe people should be given the right to decide what goes on their houses,” said Coun. Bob Spiers.

Spiers points to Quebec where residents there can refuse meters as long as they cover the costs involved with traditional meter reading.

Council’s decision comes after a presentation from Citizens for Safe Technology.

The group claims microwave radiation exposure can create a range of health issues, while the utility will know what appliances you are using by monitoring the meter.

B.C. Hydro insists the devices do not present a health concern and do not interfere with privacy.

“I have no concerns with smart meters and I’d have one in my house but people should have the right to opt out,” said Coun. Brian Quiring.

While council’s motion will be forwarded to Hydro, there is little confidence the Crown corporation will shift direction.

“Nothing will happen,” said Spiers.

“B.C. Hydro won’t back down and we will all get smart meters.”

However, Mayor Rob Sawatzky insists that local governments must represent the interests of their residents.

“Hopefully those in power will reflect on this and consider what the community wants,” he said.

Blue Divider Line

This came by email so there is no link

PRESS RELEASE AND MEDIA ADVISORY FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE NOVEMBER 23, 2011

THOUSANDS OF BRITISH COLUMBIANS SAY "NO" TO SMART METERS

The Liberal Government and BC Hydro state that only a small number of people are concerned about the Wireless Smart Meters being forced upon them without consent. This is not accurate. Within one week, thousands of signatures have been gathered on a Petition organized by Citizens for Safe Technology Society demanding a moratorium and full independent review of BC Hydro's Wireless Smart Meter program.

To date, over 13,000 Petitioners are refusing the forced installation of Wireless Smart Meters, or demanding these same meters be removed for reasons of health, cost, privacy, security and safety. The Petition (both online and hard copies) will be presented to the Legislature on November 24, 2011, by John Horgan, NDP Opposition, Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources critic, MLA for Juan de Fuca.

How long will the Liberal Government and BC Hydro show such callous disregard for democracy and human rights? British Columbians refuse to accept the Government decree that they no longer have the right to choose to protect their health or the health of their families in their own homes. Wireless Smart Meters emit radiofrequency electromagnetic fields which were classified by the World Health Organization as possible to cause human cancer on May 31, 2011. Further, exposure to wireless emissions can exacerbete existing health conditions, and cause electrohypersensitivity, a physical health condition which can rob young and old of health and quality of life. The only remedy for this environmentally triggered health condition is to avoid wireless exposures wherever possible, and most importantly, within one's own home.

Further, British Columbians are determined to protect their privacy and security by refusing to allow devices that disclose personal electricity use and behaviour patterns, which are also vulnerable to unauthorized intrusion. This is no longer a simple electricity meter, but a complex multiple channel radiofrequency transmitter surveillance device.

Reports are now being received of sudden onset ill health triggered by exposure to Wireless Smart Meters, most commonly headaches, insomnia, heart irregularities, dizziness and nausea. Further, we are aware of two situations where the Wireless Smart Meters have been removed and analogue meters replaced by BC Hydro due to residents' complaints of ill health.

Questions need to be asked about the actions of the Liberal Government and BC Hydro, our sole provider of electricity, which amount to intimidation in their attempts to force customers to forego their democratic and human rights to health, privacy, security and safety.

Citizens can continue to vote for a Wireless Smart Meter program moratorium at www.citizensforsafetechnology.org.

CST and the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters in BC, www.stopsmartmetersbc.ca are now working with legal counsel formulating legal and human rights solutions.

Media contact: Una St.Clair, una "at" citizensforsafetechnology.org

Smart Meter Removed due to Ill Health

MEDIA ADVISORY - NOTICE OF PRESS CONFERENCE

Invitation for Media and Members of the Public to Attend:

On Thursday, November 24, 2011, at 1:00 p.m., a press conference will be held on the Front Legislative Steps, Victoria, B.C. by the Coalition to Stop Smart Meters and Citizens for Safe Technology Society.

Announcements will be made regarding the total number of signatures received on Petition, and legal and human rights solutions currently being formulated.

Media contacts:
Sharon Noble, director "at" stopsmartmetersbc.ca
Una St.Clair, una "at" citizensforsafetechnology.org

2011 Citizens for Safe Technology Society
This email was sent by Citizens for Safe Technology Society, Brookswood, Langley, BC V2Z 1X5

Blue Divider Line

BC Hydro have put ratepayers on the hook for $2.2 billion in public debts
Vancouver Sun News Alert - October 27, 2011

Questionable bookkeeping methods by BC Hydro have put ratepayers on the hook for $2.2 billion in public debts -- with no apparent plan in place to recover the money, Auditor General John Doyle warned in an audit report on Wednesday. That amount, $2.2 billion, is equivalent to a one-year 60 per cent rate hike. Doyle said that if Hydro stays with the practice of deferring large debts rather than paying them back each year, the bill will jump to $5 billion by 2017

Blue Divider Line

Lake Country council highlights
Castanet.net - by Contributed - Story: 63873 - Aug 17, 2011

The following are highlights of the District of Lake Country council meeting held Tuesday, August 16, 2011.

BC HYDRO SMART METERING PROGRAM - During Public Comment Mr. Hans Karow of Lake Country expressed concerns about the BC Hydro Smart Meter program, specifically about potential health hazards and residents’ lack of opportunity to provide input. Mr. Karow handed out some information for Council and listed 7 communities in BC that have placed moratoriums on the installation of the smart meters. Gary Murphy, Chief Project Officer from BC Hydro, made a presentation to Council outlining the program which will deploy automated data collection systems and upgrade old meters to new smart meters. The most recent BC Hydro generating facility was completed in 1984 and the system of electro-mechanical meters hasn’t been upgraded in 50 years. The demand on electricity in BC will increase by 40% over the next 20 years and BC Hydro says smart meters will help customers better manage their energy use and reduce GHG emissions. Council had some tough questions for Mr. Murphy about the implied health hazards, the potential of smart meters leading to time-of-use billing and the need for public input. Council requested that BC Hydro provide some more information to the District from trusted reliable sources that can be made available for residents. Information will be posted on our website as soon as it’s available. What is your opinion on the smart meters? Join the conversation on Facebook!

Facebook Stop Smart Meters in BC

More Facebook Stop Smart Meters in BC found on Google

Blue Divider Line

BC Hydro head predicts end to energy self-sufficiency
Vancouver Sun - By Chad Skelton, August 20, 2011

Significantly reducing reliance on independent power producers would save utility hundreds of millions of dollars

BC Hydro CEO Dave Cobb says he disagrees with a government panel's suggestion that the utility's salaries are too high.
Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG Files, Vancouver Sun

BC Hydro president Dave Cobb has told his staff that he expects Victoria to soon abandon its current energy selfsufficiency policy, a move that would free Hydro from buying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of electricity that it doesn't need from independent power producers.

Cobb made the prediction on a private conference call with Hydro staff on Aug. 12, one day after a government-appointed panel released a report slamming Hydro for its bloated staff and high wages and calling for Hydro to cut its planned rate increases in half. On the call, Cobb argued that the B.C. Liberal government's 2007 energy plan, which requires Hydro to have enough energy on hand by 2016 to be self-sufficient, is enormously costly to the utility.

"If it doesn't change, it would be hundreds of millions of dollars per year that we would be spending of our ratepayers' money with no value in return," said Cobb. "The way the self-sufficiency policy is defined now ... would require us to buy far more long-term power than we need."

However, Cobb told Hydro staff he doesn't expect those restrictions to last, suggesting the government could change how it defines self-sufficiency.

"I think they're going to make a major change there, which will significantly reduce the amount of power we will be buying from independent power producers and anybody else," he said. "Government has to make a change. That's ultimately a policy change that they have to make. We're confident they will make it."

The panel, made up of three senior public servants, highlighted self-sufficiency as a major cause of Hydro's rate increases and Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman has said the government will review the policy. However, Coleman has not officially announced any changes.

The Vancouver Sun obtained a recording of Cobb's hour-long call from a Hydro employee. It is legal for any party on a call to record it.

Cobb's tone on the call was less guarded than in a news conference the day before and he frequently acknowledged the anger and frustration Hydro employees were feeling at the report's critical tone.

"I think it's going to be a relatively short story, because the government got the headlines they wanted and the media got some sensational stories."

However, Cobb also urged Hydro employees to do their best to make the utility more efficient, suggesting that if they did so, the government would get off their backs.

"Believe me, I'm having to bite my tongue probably more than anybody," he said. "But we can sit around and pout about it or we can get on with it. ... If we show we can do that, we're going to get a much longer leash from government to do that and we'll be back in control of our own destiny."

While acknowledging changes are needed, Cobb took issue with some of the report's findings, noting the panel, which "have no background in our company or our industry," only had a few months to make sense of "a very complicated company."

As he did at his news conference, Cobb said he didn't think it was necessary to cut the 1,000 positions recommended by the panel, saying 350 was a more reasonable figure.


He also disagreed with the panel's conclusion that Hydro salaries are too high.

"If you read the report, [there are] at least two references to either our 'generous compensation plans' and in one case 'very generous compensation plans,' " he said. "We have a fundamental difference with the panel on who we should be comparing our people against."

Cobb said while the panel compared Hydro to other public-sector employers like universities and hospitals, Hydro believes a fairer comparison is to private-sector utilities like Fortis and Telus.

Cobb said Hydro hoped to make most of its staff reductions through attrition and early retirement, but some layoffs would be required. He said employees should learn their fate by September.

Cobb said Friday some of his stronger comments on the call were meant to help restore the battered morale of Hydro staff.

"Obviously, this was communication with our staff and not for public comment," he said. "All the media's talking about how we have too many employees, they're overpaid and they're inefficient. These people are proud of what they do for BC Hydro. ... And the purpose of the call was to acknowledge that they were taking it personally and that's fine, but we have a job to do."

cskelton "at" vancouversun.com

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Blue Divider Line

Hydro has hired a lot of people
VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - 8/11/2011 - Sean Leslie | Email news tips to Sean

Thursday's review of BC Hydro reveals a huge and apparently unmonitored increase in staff over the last five years.

The panel says staffing at Hydro grew by 41% between 2006 and 2010 with little or no oversight, and recommends a staff cut of one thousand people.

Energy Minister Rich Coleman, "We'll go in and look at all the different areas of the company that the panel mentioned. I mean, we have a very large communications department for instance, we have, it appears, a significant amount of engineering that we may not need."

In fact, Hydro has 142 communications staff for 6,000 employees compared to 187 for the entire Provincial Government, and six times as many engineers as the Ministry of Transportation.

Blue Divider Line

Hydro rate hike will be smaller than planned
VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - 8/11/2011
Sean Leslie | Email news tips to Sean


BC Hydro has been ordered to reduce its planned rate hike of nearly 32 per-cent over three years to just 16 per-cent after a review by a Government panel.

Hydro CEO Dave Cobb says the utility provides excellent service, but can always do better, " Of course we're not perfect, and we never claimed to be perfect, and I think we want to be the most efficient cost-effective utility in North America; we're not there yet and that's where we want to go. And you know, the panel has certainly confirmed that there is room for us to improve."

NDP Energy critic John Horgan says that still leaves Hydro customers facing a steep increase, "It's laughable really for the Minister to come and say congratulate me, I've just saved you half of what I promised to charge you in the years ahead."

Energy Minister Rich Coleman says the panel did what the Government asked it to do, and describes the result as a "win" for BC families

Blue Divider Line

Radiation from Hydro's Smart Meters may be too dangerous
By Susan Fletcher, Vancouver Sun May 26, 2011

A wireless Smart Meter (SM), the type mandated for all BC Hydro customers, emits one hundred times the radiation of a cellphone.

That's the conclusion of nuclear expert, Daniel Hirsch, after finding flaws in a report to the California legislature which claimed Smart Meter radiation is 100 times less.

The report hadn't accounted for the whole body, 24/7 radiation of an SM compared to the head directed, relatively infrequent radiation from a cellphone.

Although SMs are too new to form definitive conclusions regarding their long-term risk, data from several studies show about twice the risk of a rare kind of brain tumour in those who've used a cellphone half an hour a day for 10 years.

These tumours normally take 40 years to develop.

To avoid health risks, security breaches and high costs of upkeep, The Citizens for Safe Technology advocate wired SMs.

Susan Fletcher Sechelt

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Blue Divider Line

BC Hydro Press Release
January 12, 2010

Golden and Field to pioneer Clean Energy Fund project

GOLDEN/FIELD – Natural Resources Canada has announced that BC Hydro will receive more than $5 million from the Clean Energy Fund to demonstrate state-of-the-art clean energy storage technologies that will improve customer service in Golden and Field.

The two communities were chosen because the Golden substation is close to maximum capacity, and Field, located in Yoho National Park, faces reliability issues due to its remote location.

"This demonstration project will be an opportunity to showcase innovative clean-power solutions in two B.C. communities," said Blair Lekstrom, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. "Among the project's benefits are reduced greenhouse gas emissions since the project will reduce peak-energy load as well as replace the need for back-up generation with battery storage."

"One of the challenges facing BC Hydro is the growth in electricity demand in remote areas with limited generation, transmission and distribution capacities," said Bev Van Ruyven, BC Hydro acting president and chief executive officer. "The goal of the project is to gain first-hand knowledge in the use of storage and demand response technologies to manage energy flow and improve system reliability."

The demonstration project will utilize battery bank facilities to store energy in Golden and Field, as well as Smart Grid devices and communications infrastructure to improve response times to power outages. In addition, the project will provide a clean, reliable back-up power supply for Field.

The project will demonstrate the benefits of integrating multiple distributed energy resources into distribution networks. BC Hydro will also gain extensive knowledge that can be applied to the integration of battery storage with other renewable and alternative energy sources.

BC Hydro was one of only 19 of the 178 applications submitted that received federal funding. All the Clean Energy Fund projects had to be model demonstration projects that could be applied anywhere in Canada. BC Hydro will share the knowledge it gains with other utilities to help capacity-constrained and difficult-to-reach communities across the country.


Contact:

Diane Tammen
Community Relations Manager
Phone: 250 489 6862

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BC HYDRO SMART METERS will induce people to go out and buy BATTERY BANKS so that they can draw power at non-peak times and pay less for electricity.  Battery Banks aren't a good thing for the environment, are they?

Fortis rebalancing costs you more
Castanet.net - by Contributed - Story: 61481 - Apr 16, 2011

FortisBC Inc. announced Friday that it will begin rebalancing electricity rates among customer groups, starting May 1.

The rebalancing will occur in compliance with the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) order on the utility’s cost of service analysis and rate design application, which underwent an extensive regulatory and public review process.

Photo: Grant Scott

FortisBC's business rates will drop 5.5% on May 1

Rebalancing will ensure that each customer group pays their share of the costs required to serve them, but does not generate any extra revenue for FortisBC.

What it means is higher rates for homeowners and less for business.

FortisBC's residential, lighting, and wholesale customer rates will increase by 2.5 per cent. For the average homeowner using 1,000 kWh per month, this will mean an increase of about $2.50 monthly.

Meanwhile, business and large industrial customers receive a 5.5 per cent reduction and there is a 3.2 per cent reduction for industrial transmission customers.

There will be no change for irrigation customers.

“All utilities complete a cost of service analysis periodically, for review and approval by their regulator, to ensure rates are fair and equitable between customer groups. This makes sure no one type of customer is
subsidizing another,” says Tom Loski, vice president, customer service, FortisBC.

“The resulting rate adjustments for FortisBC customers will be phased in over several years to limit any rebalancing rate increases to no more than 2.5 per cent per year and allow customers to gradually adjust to the changes.”

Under the Utilities Commission Act, the BCUC has the authority to require FortisBC to apply certain methods and formulas to determine the cost of providing service to each rate class, and to set rates on
that basis.

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Hydro rate hike may not be as high as feared
News1130 Staff/Canadian Press Mar 24, 2011

BC Hydro looking to spend $6 billion on improvements
 
A 50 per cent increase in your monthly Hydro bill over five years likely won't happen.

BC's newly minted Energy Minister Rich Coleman says he's met with Hydro reps and feels there are ways to limit the rate increase. "Having looked at how they diminish some of their accounts, how they measure their water supply and their long-term liability, and those types of things. We can look at this thing a bit differently in a business case and make it work so that the rate impact is not as significant as some people are concerned about. And I think that's got to be the goal."

BC Hydro says we need to spend $6 billion dollars over three years to meet increasing power demand and upgrade facilities, like $800 million in improvements to the 80-year-old Ruskin Dam near Mission, and the $200 million Vancouver City Centre Transmission Project.

If Hydro's current application were to be approved by the BC Utilities Commission, that's an extra $7 dollars a month on your Hydro bill for the next three years.

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In defense of ‘smart meters’
Lake Country Calendar - By Tom Fletcher - October 12, 2010

Energy Minister Bill Bennett says B.C.’s plan for “smart meters” and developing alternative energy sources is very different from Ontario’s.

VICTORIA – B.C. won’t make the same mistakes as Ontario when it introduces “smart meters” for electricity consumers over the next two years, Energy Minister Bill Bennett says.

Interactive power meters that continuously tell each customer how much power is being consumed are supposed to help them save money. The B.C. government has ordered BC Hydro to install them across the province by 2012.

But after millions of the new meters were installed in Ontario, more than 80 per cent of customers there are paying more for electricity under a new time-of-use rate structure that raises rates for peak uses like supper-time and offers cheap rates for off-peak times.

NDP energy critic John Horgan seized on that news this week and predicted a “disaster” for B.C. if it presses ahead with smart meters. The estimated $1 billion cost of B.C.’s new meters would be better spent on energy retrofits such as efficient heating and insulation, Horgan said.

Bennett said in an interview Wednesday that B.C.’s plan isn’t based on using higher rates to get people to run dishwashers or clothes dryers at night.

“We’re well aware of what’s going on in Ontario, and the business case for our smart meter program is not based on time-of-use rates,” Bennett said. “We don’t even have time-of-use rates yet in British Columbia, and when we do it’s unlikely that they’ll be mandatory. They’ll probably be voluntary.”

People could then choose to take advantage of off-peak power rates or stick with the existing rate structure, which charges a higher rate after a certain monthly consumption has been reached. That rate structure is designed to encourage energy-saving home improvements.

Smart meters have other advantages, Bennett said. They eliminate the need for manual meter readings, and customers will no longer have to call in to report power outages.

Not only will BC Hydro be able to see immediately where the power has gone out, the “smart grid” their engineers envision will eventually be “self-healing,” rerouting power to blackout areas until line repairs can be made.

Smart meters can also keep track of power generated by a backyard windmill or solar panels on the roof, deducting the amount generated from the monthly bill.

Bennett said Ontario has chosen to pay heavily subsidized rates for wind power, pushing up the province’s already high electricity rates.

He said B.C. is developing its own rate subsidy program for emerging technologies such as bioenergy and tidal power, not proven sources such as wind or solar.

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Hydro prices 'going up like a rocket'
By Don Butler, The Ottawa Citizen - Health - August 23, 2010

Electricity prices in Ontario are “going up like a rocket,” fuelled in part by the Ontario government’s Green Energy Act, says a longtime observer of the province’s energy scene. “You are going to get screwed, and it’s going to be painful,” said Tom Adams, a Toronto-based consultant and a former executive director of Energy Probe.
Photograph by: Tim Fraser, Calgary Herald.

Electricity prices in Ontario are "going up like a rocket," fuelled in part by the Ontario government's Green Energy Act, says a longtime observer of the province's energy scene.

"You are going to get screwed, and it's going to be painful," said Tom Adams, a Toronto-based consultant and a former executive director of Energy Probe.

"We're talking about hundreds of dollars a year out of your pocketbook that didn't need to happen. I'm livid about it. People should be outraged."

Hydro Ottawa customers have already been hit with a double-digit increase this year, thanks to rate hikes approved May 1 by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) and the imposition of the harmonized sales tax July 1.

A typical consumer in Ottawa who uses 800 kilowatt hours of electricity now pays $116.82 a month, including tax, according to the OEB.

That's 17.7 per cent more than the $99.35 a month the same residential customer was paying in April. Half the increase is due to higher rates and half because of the HST.

Adams warned that Ontarians should expect to pay at least $110 more a year by the end of 2011 for electricity. That translates into an additional nine-per-cent increase.

After that, rates will move steadily up for four or five years, he predicted.

The OEB has already received several applications for more hefty rate increases.

Hydro One, which operates most of the province's long-distance transmission lines, has asked for a hike of 15.7 per cent in 2011 and 9.8 per cent in 2012. If approved, the increases would apply to the transmission portion of electricity bills.

Ontario Power Generation, which produces about 70 per cent of Ontario's power, has asked for a 6.2-per-cent price increase effective next March. It scaled that back from 9.6 per cent after pressure from Energy Minister Brad Duguid.

Traditionally, Ontarians have paid less for power than Americans. But now, said Adams, "we are leaving them in our dust."

He calculated that Ontario electricity rates passed the average U.S. price for the first time early this year, and are now nearly 15 per cent higher.

Adams assigned much of the blame for the rise in electricity rates to Ontario's Green Energy Act, which promotes the use of solar, wind and other alternative power sources.

The Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program, which locks in generous payments for 20 years for large green energy projects, is "just outrageous," Adams said.

The program's rates are far in excess of current electricity prices. The FIT program, for example, offers producers between 44.3 cents and 71.3 cents per kilowatt hour for solar power, and between 13.5 and 19 cents for wind power.

By contrast, the average weighted price for electricity so far this year is 4.02 cents per kilowatt hour.

Four FIT projects are already operating commercially, as are more than 700 small-scale projects under the companion microFIT program, which offers even richer incentives.

Adams said FIT projects will drive up electricity bills as they generate more and more of Ontario's power.

Because 20-year contracts have already been offered for FIT projects totalling more than 2,600 megawatts of power, Adams said, "it's now too late to avoid hundreds of dollars per year of increases."

But Tom Carpenter, a research associate at Queen's University's Institute for Energy and the Environment, said claims that green energy will drive up the price of electricity are "simply false."

Over the next two or three years, Carpenter said, the impact of FIT projects on electricity rates will be negligible, because the high-priced renewable energy will only represent a tiny fraction of the province's generating capacity.

As the program expands, he said, economies of scale will kick in and prices will come down sharply.

Another impending shift that could raise costs for residential customers is the advent of time-of-use pricing.

Unless they've signed electricity contracts, Ottawa residents now pay the Ontario Energy Board's regulated price for hydro. For the first 600 hours of consumption in summer — and the first 1,000 hours in winter — they pay 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour, and then 7.5 cents for each kilowatt hour beyond that.

But smart meters, now installed at virtually all Ottawa residences, make it possible to bill customers at three variable rates, depending on when they use electricity.

The current time-of-use rates are:

n 5.3 cents per kilowatt hour between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.,

n 8 cents from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and

n 9.9 cents from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hydro Ottawa plans to shift 4,750 customers to time-of-use billing in November, a further 30,000 early next year and the balance by June 2011. Those who've signed contracts with electricity suppliers won't be affected.

While time-of-use pricing should be cost-neutral overall, Adams said, some people will pay more and some will pay less, depending on their consumption patterns.

Pilot projects in Toronto found many small businesses saved money while residential customers, on average, paid about eight per cent more for their electricity.

Adams said "substantial increases" are also on the horizon for electrical transmission and distribution.

One driver is an OEB decision last December that allowed local utilities to increase their allowed rate of profit. The decision bumped Hydro Ottawa's allowed return on equity to 9.85 per cent from 8.57 per cent.

There's some public benefit to that because the City of Ottawa is Hydro Ottawa's sole owner, but "that is going to drive the distribution and transmission components of the bill up by more than 10 per cent just in and of itself," Adams said.

Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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Smart meters to nip illegal practice in the bud
By Scott Simpson, Vancouver Sun August 8, 2010

BC Hydro's new digital technology will be able to detect some marijuana growing operations

BC Hydro is touting its new smart meters as a means of detecting electricity theft tied to marijuana-growing operations. The new units represent the first major upgrade in conventional power meters in half a century. Police forces around the continent have found sophisticated marijuana-growing operations in a variety of locations thanks to the technology. Photograph by: Bill Keay, PNGGallery: The grow-ops of British Columbia.

- - -

One of British Columbia's biggest underground industries could find itself short-circuited by a BC Hydro technology upgrade.

Hydro is moving ahead with a plan to replace mechanical electricity meters with smart meters across the province that are expected to make it a lot tougher for indoor marijuana growers to conceal their operations.

Smart meters represent the first major upgrade on conventional analog electricity meters in a half century. Hydro last month issued a request for proposals for companies to bid on installation of new, digital meters as well as the accompanying hardware and software, to serve all of its customers by 2012.

The principal benefit of the upgrade is to allow Hydro to better manage its electrical grid.

For example, Hydro will receive instantaneous reports of blackouts rather than waiting for customers to phone them with the information.

However, Hydro is touting detection of electricity theft as a significant side benefit for its customers.

Electricity theft was estimated in 2006 to cost Hydro $30 million per year — which would work out to at least $40 million with today's two-tier electricity rate — equivalent to a one-per-cent rate hike.

"At the market value of [purchasing] new energy supply, the cost to our legitimate customers would be significantly more — even if the total quantity of gigawatt hours stolen has not increased since 2006," said Cindy Verschoor, Hydro smart meter program communications leader, in an e-mail.

"The smart metering and infrastructure program will help to identify theft where and when it is occurring and mitigate impacts on legitimate ratepayers."

Illicit marijuana production in B.C. has been estimated to have an annual retail value of between $4 billion and $5 billion.

Conventional wisdom holds that residential-based grow operators have either tampered with their existing meters or rewired nearby distribution power lines in order to mask the large volume of power they need to run the lights that serve their indoor nurseries.

In a recent interview, a senior executive with a B.C.-based company that has already installed millions of smart meters for utilities around North America said that its workers immediately detect illegal electricity consumption when they attach the new meters to the outside of homes and commercial businesses.

It's a side-effect of the installation, Corix Utilities (U.S.) vice-president and general manager Kevin Meagher said.

"We are verifying first of all . . . is the system is safe? Is that little box on the side of your house safe? Is it grounded? Are there the right voltages based on the [customers'] records and so forth? That's all part of the installation process. We are testing all of that," Meagher said.

"How we find these [illegal] things is that we will get a backfeed that tells me there is power coming from somewhere else on this premise through the system. That's usually an indicator that there is a grow house or something else on it."

Hydro won't divulge specific details on how smart meters will detect theft, but Verschoor acknowledged that the Crown corporation expects that tampered meters will be discovered by contractors during the initial installation process.

"While evidence of electricity theft will be reported to BC Hydro, the smart meter installers are not going to be conducting investigations or intruding on customer privacy," Verschoor said.

"In general, theft detection will involve accurately measuring how much electricity is going into an area [such as a neighbourhood] and that data will be compared to metered consumption from customers in the area.

"This is akin to a retail chain comparing how much inventory is delivered to each store by how many units are sold at the cash registers in that store."

She added that the new system will give Hydro better "visibility" of its grid.

"We can determine sources of energy loss from a variety of causes, including theft."

Discussion board participants on cannabis culture sites across the English-speaking world have been expressing a degree of paranoia about the new technology, with similar meter installations proceeding in many countries.

Advocates of legalizing marijuana, meanwhile, think the grow operations most likely to be detected by the new meter technology are family enterprises.

"Prohibition breeds creativity for getting around obstacles and law enforcement, so there will be ways for large-scale growers to go undetected," Jodie Emery said in an e-mail.

Emery's husband is Marc Emery, an outspoken advocate of pot legalization now serving five years in a U.S. penitentiary for a mail order business that shipped marijuana seeds from Canada to the United States.

"They can just get generators, or buy entire gas stations (as we've seen done in the past), or use new LED lighting technology, or grow smaller crops in more locations, which actually spreads the problem out and makes it harder to detect," Jodie Emery said.

"The most dangerous aspect of the smart meter program is that it means small-scale, mom-and-pop indoor gardens will be more likely to be shut down, whereas organized crime can afford the techniques and technology to avoid detection (in the ways I outlined above). So it puts more of the cannabis market into the hands of gangs, and out of small-scale personal gardeners.

"No matter what BC Hydro does with smart meters, grow ops will never go away unless cannabis prohibition ends."

ssimpson "at" vancouversun.com

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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BC introduces Clean Energy Act
by Canadian Energy Law - POSTED ON MAY 17, 2010

Jonathan S. Drance and Phil G. Griffin
In the most recent Throne Speech the Provincial Government of British Columbia announced a policy to transform the province into a "Clean Energy Powerhouse" and to become a global leader in managing and responding to climate change.
On April 28, 2010 the Provincial Government introduced the Clean Energy Act in the legislature. The Act is designed to achieve three primary policy objectives. The first objective is to achieve electricity self-sufficiency for BC by 2016, while maintaining low electricity rates for BC consumers. The second objective is to harness BC's clean power potential to create jobs in all regions of the province. The third objective is to strengthen environmental stewardship and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
To meet those objectives, the Clean Energy Act provides a new regulatory framework for long-term energy planning, an enhanced commitment to renewable electricity generation, and measures to promote electricity efficiency and conservation. More specifically, the Act provides for the following:
Clean Energy Powerhouse: The Government is committed to making BC a Clean Energy Powerhouse by increasing reliance on clean energy sources. The new electricity policy provides for expediting clean energy investments, protecting BC ratepayers, ensuring competitive electricity rates, encouraging conservation, strengthening environmental protection and promoting regional job creation and First Nations' involvement in clean energy developments.

Expedited Project Completion: The Act exempts various core power projects to be undertaken by BC Hydro from British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) review and approval, including; (i) the new 335 km Northwest Transmission Line; (ii) Mica Units 5 and 6 (which will add 1000 MW of new capacity at BC Hydro's Mica Dam); (iii) Revelstoke Unit 6 (which will add 500 MW of new capacity at BC Hydro's Revelstoke Dam); (iv) Site C (which would add 900 MW of new capacity at a site on the Peace River); (v) the current Clean Power Call for 5000 Gwh/year from Independent Power Producers; (vi) the current Bioenergy Calls made by BC Hydro; (vii) a Smart Metering/Smart Grid initiative proposed by BC Hydro; and (viii) any Feed-in Tariff the Provincial Government should decide to adopt. All of these projects remain subject to applicable environmental assessments and to the Province's constitutional obligations to First Nations' consultation and accommodation.

Reintegration of BC Hydro and BC Transmission: The reintegration of British Columbia Transmission Corporation (BCTC) with BC Hydro to form a single entity with one board of directors and a single executive management team, in order to align policy objectives and reduce costs. All the assets, liabilities and employees of BCTC will be transferred to BC Hydro.

Electricity Exports: BC Hydro will have a new role: actively marketing clean power, both in other Provinces and to the United States. To promote new investment and jobs in BC, BC Hydro will become the aggregator of energy purchases from Independent Power Producers in the province. However, any commitments to export power projects must follow demonstrated demand.
Taken together, the projects and initiatives contemplated and provided for in the Clean Energy Act comprise a capital program that is one of the most ambitious in the history of the Province, and the largest since W.A.C. Bennett's "Two Rivers Policy," which developed dams on the Peace and Columbia Rivers beginning in the 1960s.

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About BC Hydro's final notice of disconnection, you won't believe it, but then again maybe you will.

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Never doubt the ability of a small group of concerned citizens to change the world.  In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.

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