Electricity rates to rise in 2013

Electricity rates for Kelowna customers are going up in 2013.

Kelowna City councillors approved an annual rate increase of 6.5 percent to the city's electrical utility rates for residential, municipal and school customers at Monday's regular meeting.

On average, a customer using 940 KWhs a month can expect to pay an additional $6.83 a month. The new rate comes in effect in February.

"We're passing our costs on to our rate payers," City Electrical Administration Manager Cindy McNeeley said.

The rate hike is a combination of a 4.2 per cent increase in wholesale power costs and a rate rebalancing that has been going on for three years. This is the final year of the rebalancing requested by the B.C. Utilities Commission of FortisBC.

"Fortis' rates were out of line and municipal customers weren't getting paid," McNeeley said. "There was a balancing of 6.6 per cent, so we did it in 2.5 per cent increments. This year is the balance of 2.3 per cent."

The remaining 4.2 per cent is a rate increase by FortisBC to buy the power from BC Hydro. The rate was established by FortisBC and approved by the British Columbia Utilities Commission.

"Fortis passes that on to their customer and we pass that on to our customer," McNeeley said. 

The city owns the utility, although negotiations are ongoing for FortisBC to purchase it.

John Sleeper

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