BCUC – British Columbia Utilities Commission Final Orders – 2022

5 1 vote
Article Rating

The BCUC released its final orders in the matter of its investigation into Hemlock Utility Service’s safety and reliability. The detailed document (Order No. G-195-22) begins by addressing its findings from its earlier document (Order No. G-153-21) where the Utility had submitted an application to revise Section 19 (Liability of the Company re: Service) of its Electric
Tariff Terms and Conditions to include further liability provisions with respect to its supply of electricity to customers.

The BCUC approved, among other things, Hemlock’s Application.

In the accompanying Reasons for Decision to Order G-153-21, the BCUC identified a number of operational
concerns including, but not limited to, issues related to the safety and reliability of the Hemlock system. The
panel recommended that the BCUC initiate a separate proceeding to conduct a fulsome review of the safety
and reliability of Hemlock’s electrical distribution system (Hemlock System).

The BCUC considered the evidence and submissions filed in this proceeding by the Utility, a third party engineering firm and written questions, responses and comments from HUS (Hemlock Utility Service) customers. Vocal Hemlock Valley Homeowners making a difference, like you!

Following their review, the BCUC panel found four distinct areas of concern: Reliability, Asset Condition, Safety and Load Forecast. Order No. G-195-22 addresses these concerns.

  1. Reliability – The majority of Hemlock’s outages are related to British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority’s
    single radial line serving the utility. Hemlock is taking steps to improve its communications with BC Hydro.
    The Panel directs Hemlock to report on its meetings with BC Hydro relating to supply reliability (Supply
    Reliability Meetings) and to file with the BCUC a summary of the outcomes of these Supply Reliability
    Meetings. The remaining outages are a result of either planned or unplanned outages on the Hemlock
    System, attributed to poor asset condition, or system maintenance and shutdowns necessary for the
    addition of new customer connections. Hemlock is also directed to file engineering assessment reports
    highlighting Hemlock’s routine and preventative maintenance programs, including the system’s current
    status and plan for the following year.
  1. Asset Condition – Several of Hemlock’s system assets have exceeded their estimated service life, and these
    assets will likely require significant capital investment for repair or replacement to maintain and improve
    reliability. In the Panel’s view, the lack of a structured and proactive maintenance plan has contributed to
    the poor condition of Hemlock’s system assets, delays in system upgrades, and poor system reliability. The
    Panel directs Hemlock to submit engineering assessment reports of its asset condition to the BCUC, and
    annually file a report that includes all completed and scheduled maintenance activities and any incidents
    that occurred in the previous fiscal year that may affect the material condition and reliability of Hemlock’s
    distribution assets.
  1. Safety – Hemlock relies entirely on external contractors for compliance with safety standards which may
    pose a risk to Hemlock’s ability to maintain these safety standards. Therefore, pursuant to sections 23 and
    24 of the UCA, the Panel directs Hemlock to file, as part of its annual reporting requirements with the BCUC,
    a safety compliance report.
  1. Load Forecast – The Panel finds that Hemlock’s planning process for system growth lacks transparency.
    Hemlock does not have a long-term plan, which may impair its ability to meet incremental growth in an
    orderly fashion. The Panel also finds that Hemlock’s lack of relationship with BC Hydro not only impairs its
    ability to provide reliable service to its over 200 customers, but also raised questions regarding Hemlock’s
    ability to meet the system’s anticipated growth. Hemlock is therefore directed to file a forecast of the
    number of customers and energy and peak capacity requirements for each of the next ten years including a
    timeline of discussions with BC Hydro regarding load forecast and actual growth.

Finally, the Panel recognized the level of engagement from all parties involved in the Inquiry, and noted that
there will continue to be opportunities to intervene and submit letters of comment in future BCUC proceedings
regarding Hemlock. In addition, customers may avail themselves of the opportunity to file complaints with the
BCUC regarding any inadequacies in service that Hemlock is unable to address directly.

For more information, please click on this link to download the BCUC document with its final orders and reasons resulting from its investigation into Hemlock Utility Service’s safety and reliability, Order No. G-195-22.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Scroll to Top