Electrical rate increases

Open letter to Penticton’s mayor and council

You are currently considering major increases on our utilitiy rates (in Penticton).

In this letter I am focussing on electrical rates, as well a major increase in the “dividend,” which really is not a dividend but ratepayers’ transfer.

Your proposed rate increase in these economic times will, in my opinion, have serious impacts on our seniors, on low-income earners and on our businesses. I ask myself, do our elected mayor, councillors and senior city staff realize these impacts on the ratepayers?

The thrust of the proposed electrical rate increases appear to me to be focussed on “not sustainable in the long run”. What are the details which support that? Let’s forget the past and focus on today and the future.

Apparently the mayor, council and senior city staff thought our electrical rates and reserves were sustainable enough to borrow $7.4 million from electrical reserve with a majority of the funds ($4.7 million) for the bike network plan and $2.2 million for Kinney and South Main road work. Electrical reserves used for non-electrical projects?

It appears, in a period of less than one year, we have gone from “sustainable” to “not sustainable? Why?

In the city’s request for proposals for a utility rate review (2022-RFP-23), it clearly states on page 3 of the request, “The process will involve several steps, a high degree of public engagement”.

On Page 7 of the request, 2:10 Engagement states “community engagement is a key deliverable of this project. The request also states “the city anticipates conducting the engagement in two phases”

I would appreciate receiving, in writing, how the city is achieving, and will achieve, the above engagement commitments so ratepayers are aware of the impact on them prior to the city increasing rates. How about mock billing and actual billing?

In addition to rate increases, could the city please clarify why it is proposing an increase in

the so-called “dividend” of up to 10%. (Again) this is not a dividend but a ratepayers’ transfer,

and some would say a tax grab.

If the so-called “dividend” flows from the electrical ratepayers, why would the funds not flow

to general revenue but to electrical reserves?

With respect to reserves, why is the city not focused on what we should have in each of our reserves, before taking another form of a tax grab?

It appears to me the mayor, councillors and senior city staff could be rushing to put these rate increases in place without ratepayers and taxpayers knowing the longer costs before hand.

Is it time for the (residents) of Penticton to consider if our utility rates should have to go though the process of having rate changes reviewed and approved by British Columbia’s Utility Commission, which (is the case for) 90% of

British Columbians? That’s just a thought.

Mayor and council, I would appreciate receiving your written comments and answers to my concerns of ratepayers.

Rick Thorpe

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