B.C. Hydro customers can now choose to be charged less, or more, for electricity depending on when they use it

B.C. Hydro customers can now apply to pay more for electricity during the day and less overnight.

The new time-of-day pricing plan is available to residential users of the power provider.

Those who opt into the new pricing scheme will receive a five-cent discount on every kilowatt hour of electricity used from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. They will also be charged an additional five cents on every kilowatt hour used from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., which is when residential electricity usage spikes.

The company says the new plan could benefit people who can shift electrical use, such as charging electric vehicles or running heavy appliances, to off-peak hours.

WATCH | B.C. Hydro video explains time-of-day billing: 

What is a kilowatt hour?

A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is the most common billing unit for energy delivered to consumers.

To calculate kilowatt-hours, take the wattage of any household appliance, multiply that by how many hours you think it’s used, and divide that by 1,000.

So if you use a 100-watt light bulb for 10 hours, you’ve used 1 kWh of electricity. 

How does it apply to B.C. Hydro billing?

Currently, B.C. Hydro charges customers 10.97 cents per kWh for the first 675 kWh used in an average 30-day billing period.

If the 675 kWh threshold is passed, all additional electricity usage is charged at a rate of 14.08 cents kWh.

A graphic shows the electricity use cost at different times of day under the time-of-day pricing system.
B.C. Hydro says residential electricity use peaks from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and declines overnight. (B.C. Hydro)

So, leaving that light bulb on for 10 hours costs 10.97 cents until you pass the threshold, at which point it will cost 14.08 cents.

Under the new tiered system, the cost would be five cents per kWh less during off-peak hours (11 p.m. to 7 a.m. local time) and five cents per kWh more during peak hours (4 p.m. to 9 p.m. local time)

How to sign up

B.C. Hydro is offering an online tool that analyzes past electricity usage and calculates your costs under the new plan. Those who wish to do so can also opt in to the time-of-day pricing rate online by logging in to their B.C. Hydro account.

The new plan is only available to residential customers who have their own electric system and is not recommended for customers in apartment or condo buildings.

More information about the plan and eligibility can be found on the B.C. Hydro website.

Utility hopes to make more changes

The power provider says it is planning to make more changes to how it bills people for electricity, and it intends to file a new residential rate change application with the B.C. Utilities Commission, which regulates energy utilities in the province. 

One of those changes could be an optional flat rate for customers so they get charged the same amount for all their electricity usage, as opposed to the current tiered system.

Changes could also include a reduction in the charges to residential multi-use buildings that are billed under a single account.

B.C. Hydro says it plans to apply for the additional changes by June 28.


Posted in CBC