Penticton residents invited to look ahead at utility rates

The review is recommending the electric rates set in 2017 continue through to 2022

A review of utility rates in Penticton could result in some increases over the next three years for residents.

The conclusions will be reviewed with council at their meeting on April 16 and then discussed with residents at two open houses on April 17 and 18. The information gathered through the review will assist the city in setting utility rates for the next three years.

“The goal of the review is to determine what the rates need to be in order to properly fund the maintenance and operations of our electric, water and sewer utilities as well as the need to replace or build new infrastructure,” said infrastructure general manager, Mitch Moroziuk, in a news release. “It also compares Penticton’s rates to other municipalities and considers the impact on customers and affordability.”

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Included in some of the key findings is that the reserve balances for the electric utility are forecast to be higher than required. As a result, the review is recommending the rates set in 2017 continue through to 2022. This will mean that there will not be an increase in electrical rates will continue for the next three years.

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The reserve balances for the water utility are slightly higher than required. As a result, the review is recommending a small annual rate increase of 0.6 per cent per year 2020 to 2022 or from $47 per month in 2018 to $50 per month in 2022 for the average household. Agricultural rates are also recommended to continue to increase four per cent per year for the next three years to recover operations and maintenance costs.

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The sanitary sewer system continues to be underfunded and the review is recommending rate increases of 16.5 per cent per year for 2020 and 2021 followed by a modest increase of 3.7 per cent for 2022 or from $27 per month in 2018 to $45 per month in 2022 for the average household.

Following the council meeting, staff will review the findings with customers including meetings with groups representing the industrial and agricultural communities and open houses to meet with residents. As part of these activities, staff will be looking for feedback on the proposed increases to the sanitary sewer rates as well as gauging interest in introducing water rates that incentivize conservation.

“The input received through the engagement process will be shared with the Utility Rate Review Task Force and options to address the concerns received will be generated and provided to council as part of the final Utility Rate Review presentation,” said Moroziuk.

The city reviews its utility rates every three years. This review was kicked off in late 2017 and was postponed to allow staff to respond to flooding. The study has since been completed and will be published on the city’s website on April 12.

Open house events for the public will take place on April 17 at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre from 5 to 7 p.m. and at the Starbucks (downtown Main Street location) outdoor green space from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 18.

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