KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 29, 2006) - FortisBC Inc. (TSX:FTS) today filed an application with the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) to set customer electricity rates for 2007. The Company is requesting a general 2.9% rate increase, effective January 1, 2007. The increase is a result of the Company's extensive capital investment program and higher power purchase expense due to increased electrical demand.
As a result of a negotiation in 2006 between FortisBC and its major stakeholders, the Company entered into a multi-year performance based regulation (PBR) model. The rate increase was calculated using the PBR formula.
"The PBR mechanism has streamlined the regulatory process, balancing the interests of our customers and the shareholder, enabling the Company to focus on management of the utility and implementation of its capital plan," noted John Walker, President & CEO of FortisBC.
After over two full years as a member of the Fortis group of companies, FortisBC has made significant progress in the areas of customer satisfaction, system improvements and safety.
"Our customer satisfaction rating improved to 85% in the third quarter of 2006, an increase over our 2005 result of 80%," noted Walker. "We are also seeing a broad improvement in our service delivery as a result of operational improvements and investment in the electrical system to date."
FortisBC's safety performance has improved through a reduction of employee injuries and lost work days over 2005. The Company also launched a public electrical safety awareness program this fall called "The Shocking Truth" in cooperation with other British Columbia utilities and safety organizations. For more information, visit www.coopsafetyprogram.ca.
To assist customers in managing rising electricity costs, the Company introduced its "Bright Ideas" energy efficiency awareness program this fall. The program focuses on providing the public with simple tips for saving energy, such as using compact fluorescent bulbs, weather stripping and energy efficient appliances.
FortisBC is an integrated electric utility based in Kelowna, British Columbia and operating in the southern interior of British Columbia. The Company serves over 150,000 customers directly and indirectly. The utility has four hydroelectric generating plants with a combined capacity of 235 megawatts and over 6,400 kilometers of transmission and distribution power lines. FortisBC employs over 500 people in British Columbia and is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Fortis Inc. - a diversified, international electric utility holding company based in St. John's, Newfoundland, with assets approaching $4.5 billion and annual revenues of more than $1.4 billion. The Common Shares, First Preference Shares, Series C, First Preference Shares, Series E and First Preference Shares, Series F of Fortis are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbols FTS, FTS.PR.C, FTS.PR.E and FTS.PR.F, respectively. Fortis information can be accessed at www.fortisinc.com.
FortisBC may include forward-looking statements in this release. By their very nature, forward-looking statements are based on underlying assumptions and are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties surrounding future expectations generally. Such events include, but are not limited to, general economic, market and business conditions, regulatory developments, weather and competition. FortisBC cautions readers that should certain events or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary significantly from those expected. For additional information with respect to certain of these risks or factors, reference should be made to FortisBC's continuous disclosure materials filed from time to time with Canadian Securities Regulatory Authorities. FortisBC disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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Manager, Corporate Communications