Blackout

BC Hydro consumers in the north treated unfairly in billing

THERE’S an element of discrimination in BC Hydro’s treatment of its residential customers because of its two-tier pricing system.

In areas of the province where lights come on earlier and go off later because of winter’s darkness or where electricity is the primary heat source, that first tier is easily reached.

The alternative is to fumble your way around in the dark and install a wood stove, hardly something that BC Hydro’s owners, who are its customers because this is a crown corporation, should expect.

The problem is that providing electricity is a monopoly. The vast, vast majority of residential customers have no option but BC Hydro. And BC Hydro, with no realistic competitor, has no urgent reason to change its ways.

It’s ironic that BC Hydro is spending $1 billion and change to promote its smart meters as something that is good for residents when it’s not.

Smart meters will certainly help BC Hydro by, for example, accurately pinpointing outages. All they will do for residents is tell them on which hour of which day they will start paying more for power.

Now, if BC Hydro’s smart meters gave consumers choices, say, about when to use power based on rates tied to time-of-day use, that would be something else.

But if BC Hydro has either no market driven or technical need to do so, consumers suffer in the end.