Council set to hear utility relief options

Home > Resources > Council set to hear utility relief options

Council set to hear utility relief options

December 6, 2023

Coun. Andy McGrogan told a crowd of 500 Hatters last week that entering a town-hall style meeting on high utility bills felt like he was being led to his demise.

“Now I have a feeling that I was right,” he joked while answering questions in the session that featured accusations of mismanagement, price gouging, inaction or ineptitude by council on the issue.

McGrogan, and fellow Couns. Cassi Hider and Darren Hirsch as well as Mayor Linnsie Clark, took the podium for the 90-minute meeting hearing.

McGrogan, who twice this year raised public alarm that higher bills were on the way while the city was set to record a record high dividend from the power plant, told them council was tuned in and would act on their concerns.

“I don’t take it personally,” McGrogan told the News later. “People are frustrated and it’s their right to be frustrated.”

The action is to address anger over record high commodity prices this summer, in a relatively new system of billing, will be determined tonight.

Organizers are calling for “peaceful” demonstration on the steps of city hall on Tuesday when councillors hear and contemplate options to reduce bills or provide relief to default-rate customers facing double the electric charges from earlier this year.

That follows a meeting two months ago when Coun. Darren Hirsch could not get majority support for studying a new-styled “direct dividend” system to ratepayers during times of extreme profit making at the city-owned electrical division.

Council debated utility relief measures on July 4, and approved an expansion of the “fair entry program” for low income earners. But they delayed further discussions about rate examination until later in the year when whole-year financial performance in the utility division would be better known,.

The issue of further relief was moved forward to the Sept. 5 meeting during a special meeting of council. In July, administrators presented analysis of changing current fixed and variable rates, but recommended against it as they would be “revisited when bylaw revisions are considered” in late 2023.

“The assumption is that we continue to offer fair market value (rates),” said Rochelle Pancoast, the energy managing director at the time. “But we do have some flexibility in what those fair market values look like.

“We’ve heard concerns about the 12-month term … and we take feedback and will suggest changes.”

Spread the love