As ratepayers who seem to be constantly bombarded with increases, we expect to have some input in the decision-making process.
But if you want your say with the BC Utilities Commission, you better have a private jet or at least a Lamborghini to get you there before the deadline.
Case in point – last week the commission placed an ad in our July 24edition. It was regarding FortisBC’s application for its “multi-year performance-based ratemaking plan” and rate increase. (Why do they have to make their ads so confusing – “approval of a rate stabilization deferral mechanism to mitigate rate variability?”) Why not keep it simple by saying they need to charge us more?
Anyway, the ad was published July 24. But if you wanted to intervene or have your say in the matter, you had until next morning (July 25) at 10 am to state your case in a conference room in Kelowna. Mmmm, wonder how many Oliver people showed up, or if they had time to put their pajamas on first?
Really, less than 24 hours notice is unacceptable, especially for people who work. This ad should have been placed in the July 17 paper in order to give ratepayers a week’s notice to plan such a trip to Kelowna.
Maybe the commission can’t be bothered with feedback, or maybe the decision has already been made and the workshops are only a required formality.
The commission reminds us of the Senate, which is in desperate need of an overhaul. We need people on the board who understand what it’s like to live from paycheque to paycheque, and what it’s like to be on a fixed income.
We need real people making the decisions by gathering meaningful feedback from the ratepayers.
Fortunately, the commission listened to those with valid concerns regarding the smart meter. Although it approved FortisBC’s application for the advanced metering project, it decreed the company must come up with an opt-out provision for customers. However, those who choose to opt out will likely have to pay for that privilege. It’s like being penalized for not going with the flow of technology or playing by their rules.
The debate over whether smart meters pose a risk to human health will never be resolved. Forgive the pessimism, but our bodies are so filled with electromagnetic radiation today that adding one more to the list won’t make a big difference. Or will it?
But it all comes down to a choice, which people should have and should fight for.
Lyonel Doherty, editor