Electricity Costs Shock Vancouver Island Homeowners

Article By Katherine Dedyna, Victoria Times Colonist

The commission decided on Jan. 20 to phase out the E-Plus program because there is no longer surplus power in the system, and the rest of Hydro’s customers are subsidizing the lower rates.

The E-Plus discount was “supposed to last till we all died,” said Oak Bay resident Angus Matthews, 64, one of an estimated 5,000 E-Plus Hydro customers on the Island. There are about 7,500 E-Plus customers in B.C.

The program was started in 1987 by Jack Davis, the B.C. energy minister, to equalize heating costs on the Island and parts of B.C. that did not have access to natural gas, which was available in the Lower Mainland.

Natural gas did not arrive on the Island until 1992, so the E-Plus discount was based on what Lower Mainland customers paid for natural gas. Hydro required households to install backup heating systems, such as oil or propane, to qualify for E-Plus because the surplus electricity might be cut off if required by the system. The commission said E-Plus power has never been cut off.

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