The entirety of Victoria’s demand for electricity and natural gas is fulfilled by regulated energy utilities. FortisBC is the sole distributor of natural gas in Victoria, while BC Hydro supplies electricity to the city’s businesses and residences.
While there are no retail alternatives for purchasing electricity in Victoria, there are several natural gas retailers operating in the city. These retail natural gas providers include:
Generations of Victoria residents have relied on FortisBC for their natural gas needs. However, most homeowners and businesses are unaware of competitive retail alternatives, which often feature natural gas prices lower than FortisBC’s. To learn more about Victoria’s natural gas retailers, we invite you to explore the links above. You’ll find information on companies’ histories, and the plans they offer to residential and business customers—which often include fixed rate, variable rate, and fixed cost monthly options.
To find out what natural gas rates are currently available in your area, fill out our rate comparison form above.
Victoria Electricity and Natural Gas History
Though Esquimalt Harbour was visited by Spanish explorers in the early 1790s, the first European settlement of Victoria did not occur until the early 1840s. A trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company was founded in 1843, originally under the name Fort Albert, but was renamed later that year as Fort Victoria.
Established as a crown colony in 1849, the construction of a town began in earnest. Both the town’s population and rate of development exploded with the Fraser Canyon gold rush, as it was perfectly positioned as a supply base for miners. In 1862, Victoria was incorporated as a city.
That same year, the Victoria Gas Company illuminated its first gas-fueled street lamp, in front of a liquor store on Yates Street. Several other businesses in downtown Victoria followed suit. However, disputes over service quality and pricing meant that the company did not receive a contract for public street lighting until 1873.
The lamps went dark in 1878 when the city government refused to sign a new five-year contract without a reduction in rate. This generated a great deal of public pressure to find an alternative. But after a string of failures to work around the problem, a new contract was signed, which lasted until 1881 when the lamps were turned off again.
This led to the installation of the first electric lights—three arc lights mounted on 150-foot-tall masts—in Victoria in 1883. However, the public was not particularly impressed. The next 15 years or so were defined by a seemingly endless cycle of new electric lighting schemes, each of which presented their own challenges and frustrations. But Victoria was driven towards electrification by virtue of the city’s disdain for the Victoria Gas Company, and its desire to be a literally shining example of a technologically advanced city.
A product of this stubborn march forward was the founding of the Victoria Electric Illuminating Company in 1891. It was the first municipally owned electric lighting system in the entirety of Canada.
Over time, a number of electricity generators, lighting companies, and railways in and around Victoria and Vancouver were consolidated into the British Columbia Electric Railway Company, formed in 1897. At this point, Victoria’s electricity was sourced from a 745-kW steam plant, which could not keep up with the city’s growing energy demands. Construction of the city’s first hydro plant, located on the Goldstream River, was completed in 1898. By 1910, its generating capacity had grown to 2,200 kW, which still was not enough. A 3,200-kW plant was built on the Jordan River in 1911. In 1912, its capacity was doubled to 6,400 kW, and construction of a 4,000-kW steam plant on Brentwood Bay was completed. The growth of Victoria’s energy infrastructure continued at an exponential rate. By 1930, BC Electric’s total production capacity on Vancouver Island was 33,400 kW.
While BC Electric was able to meet the electricity needs of Victoria and Vancouver, electricity generation and distribution in the rest of British Columbia was becoming an increasingly fragmented affair. Near the end of the first decade of the 1900s, there were 23 electric companies in British Columbia. This figure nearly doubled to 41 by 1930, and grew to 65 by the mid-1940s. To remedy this, the provincial government created the British Columbia Power Commission in 1945, which began to acquire these small utilities, modernizing and consolidating them.
In 1961, the province bought the massive infrastructure of BC Electric, and the next year BC Electric and the BC Power Commission were combined into a single entity, the British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority, better known today as BC Hydro.
Thus, Victoria’s early struggle with bringing electricity to its downtown streets in the 1880s and 1890s came to shape the entirety of British Columbia’s modern energy infrastructure.