VICTORIA – The B.C. Utilities Commission is currently reviewing an application from Fortis BC to install a new metering system in their service area, unlike BC Hydro’s smart meter program, which the large majority of electrical customers in British Columbia are subject to.
The B.C. Liberals’ refusal to allow the independent regulator to look at BC Hydro’s smart meter program shows hypocrisy from a government with a serious credibility problem, said New Democrat energy critic John Horgan.
“The fact is these proposals should be reviewed by the independent utilities commission, a process that Fortis BC is correctly subject to,” said Horgan. “That’s what the public body was set up to do.
“It was wrong of the Liberals to interfere with that process and force BC Hydro’s smart meter program on British Columbians free of any independent review or opportunity for public input.”
The BCUC is currently reviewing a revised application from Fortis BC for Advanced Metering Infrastructure. Fortis' previous application was rejected in 2008, with the commission ruling the application was incomplete, premature and showed no evidence of cost-effectiveness. The BCUC encouraged Fortis to re-apply when they had a comprehensive plan in place.
The BCUC is responsible for, among other things, “ensuring that customers receive safe, reliable and non-discriminatory energy services at fair rates from the utilities it regulates.”
But in 2010, the B.C. Liberals passed legislation that exempted billions of dollars' worth of BC Hydro projects from independent oversight, including the billion-dollar smart meter program. As a result, British Columbians weren’t given an opportunity to give meaningful input, and the independent commission wasn’t allowed to do its job.
“Adrian Dix and B.C.'s New Democrats want to restore the role of the BCUC in order to ensure the public has the opportunity to provide input on these major projects through an independent process,” said Horgan.
“The B.C. Liberals seem to have lost sight of the public interest, and instead are only focused on political survival,” said Horgan.
The BCUC is expected to make a second ruling on Fortis’ AMI application in early 2013.