BC Hydro applies to raise rates by four per cent

Utility points to recent slump in commodity prices and a government plan to allow mines to defer electricity costs to keep running

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.

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