SUMMERSIDE – Most residents in the City of Suimmerside have seen or will see an increase in their power bills.
Coun. Frank Costa, chairman of the city’s electric committee, said rates are up about two per cent to help cover the costs of operations at the locally owned electric utility and to keep pace with charges levied by Maritime Electric Ltd.
“It’s to keep pace with our own costs of operations,” he said. “We’re just trying to have it where people can have a reasonable increase and still have a good service.”
One of the issues that ties in with the recent increase is that about 600 city residents are not serviced by the Summerside electric utility. They remain customers of Maritime Electric. These customers are in the former communities of St. Eleanors and Wilmot and were not included under the Summerside electric utility umbrella when they were amalgamated in 1995.
There was no public announcement that power rates were on the rise.
“I think it’s all part of the budget discussions and will be identified through that,” Costa said. “The reason it was done is to keep the operations viable so that it doesn’t get further behind. If it gets further behind it comes to where do we get the money to support our electric utility? Those services should be running on the recovery of costs.”
Maritime Electric hiked its rates about two per cent and the city followed suit.
Costa said this does figure into the city’s decision to raise rates but the city’s move was also done to cover costs at the locally owned plant.
Costa said the 600 electric customers outside the coverage of the Summerside electric utility has always been problematic for the city.
“We’re trying to make arrangements for them to come on with us,” he said. “We’ve asked the province. The residents are saying its (electric utility) is part of our property tax. We pay for that utility but we’re not getting a direct benefit.”
Costa said back when the city amalgamated, the issue of electric customers was an item that was left out of the talks.
“Maritime Electric is holding them and we’re not asking them to just give them to us,” he said. “There have been negotiations in terms of do we buy that or so forth.”
Talks are continuing over the acquisition of the 600 customers.
“We’ve had more recent discussions with the province to say we may need your participation in this to help us resolve this. If they do get involved and they can’t (help) then we’ll let people know that we’ve done what we can.”
Costa said the province would be asked to look at the reasonableness of the city’s request.
“What we’re asking for isn’t unreasonable. There are negotiations in terms of power poles you use ours: we use yours and so on.”