VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Sept. 18, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) directed BC Hydro to refund $693,000, plus interest, in payments it collected from Gitga’at First Nation (GFN).
Since 2014, BC Hydro has been collecting $85,000 per year from GFN under its Electricity Service Agreement, in addition to the rates GFN pays for electrical service under BC Hydro’s electric tariff. The tariff outlines the approved terms, conditions, and rates for electricity service.
On April 5, 2022, the BCUC received a complaint from GFN about the annual charge and established a hearing to review the complaint.
Following an open and transparent public review process, the BCUC determined that the annual charge BC Hydro collected from GFN is a rate for electricity service. This rate had not been reviewed and approved by the BCUC, and the terms in the Electricity Service Agreement requiring payment of the Annual Charge were found to be unenforceable.
The BCUC directed BC Hydro to refund GFN the entirety of the annual charge it has collected since 2014, plus interest, within the next six months.
Gitga’at First Nation is a remote community located in Hartley Bay, BC, which is part of BC Hydro’s Zone II service area. The community has been receiving electricity service from BC Hydro since 2014, in accordance with the Remote Community Electrification Program.
BC Hydro has an obligation under section 63 of the Utilities Commission Act (UCA) to seek the consent of the BCUC, “to directly or indirectly, in any way charge, demand, collect or receive from any person for a regulated service provided by it, or to be provided by it, compensation that is greater than, less than or other than that specified in the subsisting schedules of the utility applicable to that service and filed under [the UCA].”
About the BCUC
The BCUC is an independent regulatory body, responsible for regulating BC’s energy utilities, compulsory automobile insurance rates, and intra-provincial pipeline rates. It is the BCUC’s role to balance the interests of ratepayers with the interests of the businesses it regulates. The BCUC carries out fair and transparent reviews of matters within its jurisdiction and considers public input where public interest is impacted. The BCUC is also the Administrator of BC’s Fuel Price Transparency Act and is responsible for collecting and publishing information about gasoline and diesel activities in BC, in an effort to promote competitiveness and public confidence in the fuel market.
Krissy Van Loon
Email: [email protected]