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To find savings, get to know your BC Hydro bill

2017 update: BC Hydro electricity rates for Large General Service (LGS) customers and Medium General Service (MGS) changed as of April 1, 2017. LGS and MGS customers are all charged under simpler, flat rates with no tiered pricing for energy and demand charges.

The online Baseline and Forecaster tools are no longer required to estimate customer electricity costs and will be removed from MyHydro.

Learn more about the changes

It sounds... a bit elementary. But the fact is, you may not be paying attention to the very thing that could save you money, month over month.

It's your power bill. Be honest: are you paying attention?

"When we did a survey, we found that only half of our business customers read their BC Hydro bill every month," says Shiau-Ching Chou, a customer service operations program manager at BC Hydro. "But if you're not, you're missing out on the key information that can help you cut costs."

Online "explainers" make it easy

If you're not certain what all the information on your bill is, start with BC Hydro's online "Bill Explainers." These are web pages with clear information and definitions about every element on your bill, with a specific page available for each business customer rate class.

(Medium General Service (MGS) customers should refer to the MGS bill explainer, Large General Service (LGS) customers should check the LGS bill explainer. If you have a site that is under a Small General Service (SGS) rate, look at the SGS bill explainer. Not sure which to choose? Learn what rate structure you're under.)

On the bill explainer, hover over any item marked with a blue flag, and a box will pop up to describe what the item is.

"The place to start is your energy charge," says Chou. "If you don't know what you're using, it's hard to figure out what you could save."

Are you earning a credit? Check your energy charge

Under the heading "Electric Charges," there are a variety of headers. The largest part of your bill is the energy charge. This is what people are most familiar with — you pay for the amount of electricity you use.

For LGS and MGS customers, the energy charge is separated into two parts, in keeping with BC Hydro's conservation rate structure. (More about MGS conservation rate or LGS conservation rate.)

In Part 1 of the energy charge, you pay for your baseline — your average historic usage in the same month over the past three years. Baselines are unique to your account and are updated every year to reflect your most recent energy usage.

Part 2 of the energy charge is the difference between your actual consumption and your baseline. "This is the place to zero in on to see if you've been successfully cutting your energy use," says Chou. It shows whether you've earned a credit for reducing energy use below your company's baseline. "If you see 'CR' to the right of the entry, you've got a credit, so your energy use has gone down compared to the same month in the past three years," says Chou. "The Part 2 credits or charges are priced at a higher rate to provide you an incentive to conserve."

Chou says it's worth making a simple monthly routine with your electric bill. "Pour a cup of coffee, take a five-minute break, and sit down and study your bill," she says. "Don't just glance at the dollar amount. It might be different because of the general price increases. Look at the kWh consumption, compare your month to month consumption and see if your usage is reflecting your business changes. If it isn't, then you want to find out what is wasting energy."

If you don't have your past bills on file, a good place to find your historic consumption information is the BC Hydro website. Log in to MyHydro to see your past usage data.

There's also information about your company's baselines and how they were calculated.

More resources to help you start saving

Learn how to make the most of the information in your BC Hydro bill, to cut costs and save money. Check the following resources to learn more. And if you need to talk to someone, call the Power Smart Business Help Desk at 604 522 4713 (Greater Vancouver) or 1 866 522 4713 (elsewhere in the province).