Skyrocketing Electricity Bills; FortisTCI tries to raise awareness to soften the blow – Magnetic Media
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, August 4, 2022 – Electricity prices will rise significantly this month according to power company Fortis TCI. In an email to customers, the company explained that the fuel factor for the July cycle had increased across the island.
The company said consumers would face double-digit fuel factor rate increases on their latest bills, which came as July turned into August.
“Fuel price increases in June mean an increase in the fuel factor rate, which will be reflected on your next electricity bill. Your July electric bill will reflect a fuel factor charge of $0.2950 per kilowatt hour for Providenciales, North Caicos and Middle Caicos. This is 22.66% more than last month.
The increase was slightly lower for Grand Turk and Salt Cay landing at $0.2461, 19.88% higher than last month. Last month’s bills were also higher than normal due to rising fuel prices.
FortisTCI sought to allay residents’ fears about how consumption was calculated following the June increases in an interview broadcast on Radio Turks and Caicos.
Alvejes Desir, director of power generation, said technology upgrades allow them to perform automated meter readings every 15 minutes. This, he said, meant consumption was not estimated and customers could read their own meters and compare them to their bills. The meters are also tested and certified, said the director.
In addition, FortisTCI has clarified the calculation of total bills based on fuel factor and electric tariffs.
Aisha Laporte, Vice President of Finance, Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer explained that invoices are calculated by by multiplying the residents’ consumption (expressed in kilowatt hours) by the electricity rate and by the fuel factor rate. Electricity costs include the machinery used to generate and deliver electricity to customers, while the fuel factor is the cost of the fuel used. The electric rate remains stable while the fuel factor changes monthly. Both electrical and fuel factor ratings are verified by the TCIG.
The rise in electricity bills, Laporte explained, was driven by rising oil prices. Diesel is used to run electricity generators. This diesel is purchased in the US, so cost changes will ripple through
“Russia is also supplying oil to the United States – we have seen where the Russian-Ukrainian conflict has caused supply chain disruptions – which has contributed to the increase in demand on the one hand and the supply restriction on the other.”
Additionally, the company said there could regularly be a lag of about a month in fuel prices due to the long journey oil from the United States must make before arriving in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Fortis TCI also has a first in, first out policy when it comes to oil, which also affects the price lag.
Rising temperatures during the summer months played a role in rising electricity costs according to Laporte. To help, they encouraged residents to use the My Online Account feature, due to the 15-minute readings. Residents can see their consumption in real time.
“We have a smart meter tab which is on the left side. Once you log in and click on this tab immediately, a graph will appear with your daily usage in addition to the one you can click on each day and it will show you your usage hour by hour,” said Nicquel Garland, Service Manager. customer.
Additionally, Garland said customers can set a consumption limit and will receive a notification when they reach that limit. Customers can also receive percentage notifications. So when their current usage reaches 50%, etc. of their previous month’s bill, they will receive a notification.
All data is stored, so every time you sign up, all your previous data will be available.
It is an incredibly powerful tool for consumption management and Fortis says that with the Ukraine crisis dragging on and the world still recovering from COVID-19 consumption, it is key to reduction of bills.