Hydro consumption in B.C. spiked by double digits during cold winter
Electricity use shot up significantly across the province this winter, as colder-than-average temperatures had British Columbians dialing up the thermostat.
And since the ensuing higher B.C. Hydro bills lasted for so long into this spring, the utility company is giving customers more time to sign up for a payment plan meant to ease some of the budget burden.
B.C. Hydro is reporting that overall electricity consumption was up by double-digit percentage points over recent years during December, January and February. Numbers for March, which broke Environment Canada records for lack of sunshine, aren't yet available.
"Environment Canada has reported lower-than-average temperatures across the majority of B.C. this winter, and that’s consistent with the data collected by our meteorologists as well," spokeswoman Mora Scott said. "In January, we actually broke our record for peak electricity demand that had been in place for more than a decade."
That happened on the Jan. 13 between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., at 10,126 megawatts, beating the previous record of 10,113 megawatts on Nov. 29, 2006.
Scott wasn't able to provide estimates for how much more money British Columbians will pay for electricity this year, but because of the anticipated strain on the pocketbook, the Crown corporation has introduced a payment plan that allows residential customers to spread their winter payments over six months of bills. The program was supposed to close at the end of March, but that month was also colder than expected, so the deadline to sign up has been extended to April 30.
So far, more than 900 customers have registered for the payment plan. In case of another cold winter next year, Scott recommended that customers invest in a programmable thermostat that allows users to make sure the heat is only on when they're at home. Heating can account for up to 50 per cent of an electricity bill.
Here is a breakdown of the numbers for this frigid winter:
• December: Average temperature of 1 C, 3.6 degrees colder than the five-year mean; hydro consumption up 15 per cent over December 2015, 17 per cent over 2014.
• January: Average temperature of 2.1 C (2.4 degrees colder); consumption up 12 per cent over 2016, 18 per cent over 2015.
• February: Average temperature of 3.2 C (2.6 degrees colder); consumption up 14 per cent over 2016, 24 per cent over 2015.
Anyone interested in B.C. Hydro's winter payment plan can call 1-800-BCHYDRO to sign up. Customers can also track their hourly electricity use at bchydro.com.