High Prairie hikes fee 20%

History occurred in High Prairie on July 25, 2017 when ATCO Electric installed the first three LED streetlights in town. Above, ATCO Electric serviceman Randy McPhail installs a light in Silverwood Crescent. ATCO pays the Town of High Prairie an annual fee to provide service.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

They aren’t the lowest but not the highest either!
The Town of High Prairie raised its ATCO Electric franchise fee to nine per cent from 7.5 per cent effective Jan. 1, 2022 at its Sept. 14 meeting. It means for residents that electric bills will rise slightly by a few dollars a month in the New Year.
A proposed increase of 10.3 per cent would have added about $100,000 to the Town coffers.
The franchise fee is the fee paid by ATCO Electric for the right to do business in town. In turn, ATCO recoups the fee paid on monthly power bills to its customers.
CAO Rod Risling review rates around the Peace Region and submitted a report to council that “we are 2-3 percentage points lower than” the 11.92 average.
“It’s still lower than the closest three,” noted Risling in recommending the new 10.3 rate.
“People’s power bills will still go up,” said Councillor Judy Stenhouse.
Councillor Donna Deynaka was also concerned.
“We just raised utilities,” she said, referring to water and sewer rates being increased earlier in the meeting.
“Now we’re looking at raising the franchise fee. . .more cost to residents.”
Her concern was also over recent repeated power outages.
“Power seems to flip on and off on a regular basis,” said Deynaka. “I’m still struggling with the increase.”
Mayor Brian Panasiuk noted increasing the franchise fee was a “hidden tax” for residents while Councillor Michael Long agreed an increase simply fell on the shoulders of taxpayers. He added, however, families can control their utility costs by limiting the use of power and water.
“It will be a marginal hit for them [taxpayers],” he concluded.
At first, council motioned for an increase to 10.3 per cent but settled on nine.
“I can live with nine,” said Panasiuk.
Stenhouse opposed.
“We’re raising rates but still haven’t had a discussion about cutting services,” she said, citing snow clearing and grass cutting.
“Let’s talk about cutting some services instead of raising the rates. We can find other ways to save some money.”
Deynaka and Stenhouse opposed the increase while Gilroy, Long and Panasiuk voted in favour.

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