Regional district joins fight on two-tiered billing

The RDOS will file for intervener status along with the Anarchist Mountain community group.

The Regional District is charged up to fight the two-tiered system being used by Fortis B.C.

At last week’s Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen meeting directors voted to seek intervener status with the B.C. Utilities Commission regarding Fortis B.C’s two-tiered billing.

The decision was made after Nick Marty from the Anarchist Mountain Community Society presented his argument on why the two-tiered system does not meet it’s goals of promoting conservation and reducing environmental impacts.

Marty, a retired federal energy economist, said the two-tier system has not reduced energy consumption but rather shifted who pays for it and penalizes those that don’t have access to natural gas.

“People who don’t have access to natural gas, who are people who mostly live rurally, so, those that live rurally are actually subsidizing those that live in urban centres.”

The Anarchist Mountain Community Society has already filed for intervener status on the issue. Marty encouraged RDOS directors to join in on their arguments to add weight to the small group’s concerns.

Marty said whenever he’s spoken to Fortis or the B.C. Utilities Commission he’s been told they don’t hear from people negatively impacted.

“We need to collect stories from people and evidence that this has affected them. We need to get that out to people that we need to hear from them so we can prove that this is a problem,” he said.

Bill Newell, CAO for the RDOS said there was no way to know how much it might cost the regional district to prepare and speak at the hearing.

“There is a subsidy available to do this but we won’t know until after how much we will receive, so we need to know how you want to pay for this,” he said.

Rural directors decided to pay for any fees incurred through their Rural Projects – Contingency Funds.

Penticton and Summerland have already filed for intervener status regarding rate increases.

Tom Siddon, director for Area D was in full support of the RDOS working with the Anarchist group to change the way the two-tiered system works.

“We need to speak up for the poorest of the poor that have no way of challenging this. The poor can’t afford to buy more energy efficient appliances even with the rebates,” he said.

Fortis B.C. did release a report earlier this year that states only about 10 per cent of their customers have been negatively impacted by the two-tiered system.

Those negatively impacted by the two-tiered system are encouraged to contact their local regional district representative to share their story.