BCUC Approves FortisBC’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure Project
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 15, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) to FortisBC Energy Inc. (FEI) for its Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project, per Order C-2-23.
FEI’s AMI project includes the replacement of approximately 1,100,000 residential, commercial, and industrial existing gas meters with new advanced gas meters and the installation of the necessary communication components to enable automatic meter readings, among other features. Meter replacement is expected to begin this year.
FEI noted that AMI technology would enable more accurate and convenient billing processes, reduce meter reading costs and service risks, help customers access their energy consumption information and conserve energy, and support the resiliency of the gas network by enabling FEI to remotely shut off portions of the gas system for maintenance or in the case of a natural disaster. Whereas continuing with existing meters and manual meter reading would require significant investments from FEI, as FEI’s contract with its meter reading service provider is set to expire and replacements for existing meters are expected to be expensive in the future.
The total capital cost of the AMI project is estimated to be $752.5 million and will result in anticipated operations and maintenance cost savings of $322.6 million over the 26-year life of the project. Together, the capital costs and operating savings result in an estimated delivery rate increase of 0.442% per year for residential, commercial, and industrial customers. A residential customer consuming 90 gigajoules per year would have an average annual bill increase of $28.50 in 2027, the year after full AMI deployment. After 2027, the bill impact will decrease due to the operations and maintenance cost savings.
The BCUC conducted an open and transparent public process to review FEI’s application to determine whether its AMI project was in the public interest. To assess public interest, the BCUC established a set of relevant needs that included accurate and convenient meter reading, demand side management and energy conservation opportunities for customers, enhanced safety and resiliency for FEI’s gas distribution network, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions due to less vehicle traffic needed to manually read meters, and cost effectiveness.
During the proceeding, the BCUC reviewed participant submissions on several topics including alternative project options, the overall impact to ratepayers, project costs, potential benefits, and human health impacts.
The BCUC found that the AMI project was in the public interest and consistent with FEI’s 2022 Long-term Gas Resource Plan and provincial government policy, as outlined in the Clean Energy Act and CleanBC plan.
FEI was also approved to offer an option for customers who do not want to connect to wireless technology on their premises. In these cases, the customer will pay a fee for their meter modification and to continue having their meter read manually.
For more information about FEI’s application or the BCUC’s decision, please visit the proceeding page.
About the BCUC
The BCUC is a regulatory agency responsible for the oversight of energy utilities and compulsory auto insurance in British Columbia. It is the BCUC’s role to balance the interests of customers 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.
Krissy Van Loon
Email: [email protected]