Penticton utility rates rising

Utility rates in Penticton are on the rise, though at a slower rate thanks to a five-year plan.

Utility rates in Penticton are on the rise, though at a slower rate thanks to a five-year plan council voted to implement this week.

Last month council received a report that not only sets out rate increases, but adjusts the balance between commercial, industrial and residential rates, with the goal of helping electrical, sewer and water utilities become sustainable.

Daryl Clarke, plant manager at Cut Technologies, a world-class manufacturer of saw blades, said the gradual amelioration of electric costs is going to make doing business in Penticton easier.

“Before, our rates were going up, up, up compared to Fortis, and now they are going to come down and be in line with Fortis,” said Clarke. The five-year plan shows commercial rates increasing at a slower rate than the 4.1 per cent increase to residential customers.

Andrew McLaren, who authored the report, said that on average, residential customers are likely underpaying on electricity and water rates and overpaying on sewer rates while commercial and industrial customers, on the other hand, are overpaying on electricity and water but likely underpaying on sewer rates.

“I am glad they listened to their consultant. For the next five years, the electric rates in Penticton are going up less than the Fortis rates. It will bring us back in line with it, it will create the contingency funds we need and hopefully we can get on with dealing with infrastructure,” said Clarke. “They are structuring it so it will be sustainable and they are changing the way administration fees are done, so it is not going to be such a cash cow.”

Under the new rate plan, the average resident can expect to see their utility bills rise by $34 from $189 to $223 between 2016 and 2020, while small commercial will increase from $969 to $1,186. Industrial customers will increase from an average $6,257 to $7,287.

Water rates are also expected to rise. The average residential rate is $34, but will rise to $52 in 2020. Sewer rates, on the other hand, will decrease, from $43 to $35.

Director of operations Mitch Moroziuk said the electric rates increases are based on projections of FortisBC’s wholesale rates.

“If we receive a surprise, we would be back to council to talk about that,” said Moroziuk.

Coun. Helena Konanz was concerned that the five-year plan meant council wouldn’t be reviewing electric rates annually.

“I don’t see what is wrong with having it come forward to the public each year. I think it is our responsibility,” said Konanz. “This utility belongs to the people of Penticton, I think it is important that they see what we are doing each year.”

Council also voted to shift billing for water to a monthly basis. Chief Financial Officer Colin Fisher told council the change would give customers the chance to discover leaks or  adjust water use in order to avoid higher bills more easily, and hopefully increase customer satisfaction with the service.

Fisher also suggested that staff time spent dealing with customers angry about the irregular charges would be reduced, and possibly avoid situations like the one that caused City Hall to be locked down after a resident, angry at having his power shut off, issued threats.

 

Just Posted

Lightning in Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms overnight

Justin Fotherby,17, and Ashley McMillan, 17 have been chosen for an invitation only competition that sees 20 of Canada’s top swimmers per event vying for a spot at the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. (Submitted)
Penticton swimmers off to Olympic trials

The pair are eyeing a spot on the Canadian team heading to the Tokyo Olympics

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bit by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck out

Renderings of what the skating rink could look like beside City Hall between Martin and Main in downtown Penticton. (Activate Penticton image)
Outdoor skating rink back at Penticton council

City staff recommend going forward with rink which could host 2022 BCHL’s 60th year celebration

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

Most Read