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Get to know your BC Hydro bill, demand charge defined

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Last month, we started a three-part close-up on your BC Hydro bill. The fact is, a lot of customers don't spend much (or any!) time reviewing their bill. But getting to know what's there, and giving it a five-minute look each month could save you money.

Save money by reducing demand charge

To find out if you're earning a credit on your conservation efforts and how much total energy you're using (and paying for) each month, check your "energy charge." The next line item to review is your demand charge.

Demand charge is related to the maximum amount of power you need during a billing period, measured in kilowatts. Energy is power multiplied by time, commonly measured in kilowatt-hours.

"An easy way to think of this is to imagine a garden hose," explains Shuaul Qamar, a team lead with BC Hydro Power Smart, Industrial. "Energy is how much water you used in total over the entire month. But power is how much water you use all at one time. The day you turn on five sprinklers together at once, your water requirement, or in electrical terms 'demand', would be much higher."

Total demand across BC Hydro's service area is what determines the amount of generating capacity and electrical infrastructure that is required. When customers help reduce their "peak load" by shifting some usage to low-demand periods of the day, less electrical infrastructure is needed.

"Customers sometimes find it challenging to shift their demand; they are not always able to make a choice about running equipment at different times of day," says Qamar. "But considering ways to reduce your peak load where possible, such as scheduling cleaning or drying operations at night, and turning off unnecessary lights, can make a difference. It helps us across the province to be smarter about how we generate and use electricity, and it can save you money too."

How do you save? By avoiding the increased charges that are levied on higher demand. Current demand charges are:

  • $0.00 per kW for first 35 kW
  • $4.76 per kW for next 115 kW
  • $9.13 per kW for remaining kW

For example, consider a Large General Service (LGS) class customer (all LGS customers use more than 150kW.) When the company switches on additional equipment during its peak demand time (when everything else is running at full speed), the cost of one additional kWh of energy is $0.0462, but the additional kW of demand will cost $9.13.

"Demand charge can be very costly," says Shiau-Ching Chou, a customer service operations manager at BC Hydro. "It's worth avoiding by running unnecessary processes or equipment at a lower peak period."

Resources to help you start saving

Learn more about demand charge with this quick video.

To locate the various charges on your bill and find out what each of the charges mean, find the bill explainer for your rate structure below or learn more about what rate structure you're under.

Below are more resources to help you learn how to make the most of the information in your BC Hydro bill, to cut costs and save money. If you have questions, call the Business Help Desk at 604 522 4713 (Greater Vancouver) or 1 866 522 4713 (elsewhere in the province), or talk to your Key Account Manager.