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Letter: Smoke and Mirrors

To The Editor:

The latest city newsletter is showing comparison rates for electricity.  

Why?

They look good against all the others using coal, gas and other non renewable for the most part.  Let me show you another comparison.   Nelson should have the cheapest power in Canada; our dam makes power for 2 c/kWh selling for a 500% profit.   

Lets look at Chelan County, WA.  to the south of us, which have their own power dam like Nelson.  It is organized under state statute as a non-profit municipal corporation and functions as a customer-owned public co-operative energy district.

It is governed by a Board of Commissioners elected by the customer-owners, who, as owners, receive dividends (in the form of reduced rates).  Their residential retail rate for electricity just went to 3c/kWh vs. our 10c/kWh. 

Nelson hydro similarly is owned by you and I.  The mandate of a municipal electric utility is to bring the most reliable and cheapest power to its ratepayers.  Who decides our rates?  The mayor and city council and Alex Love manager of Nelson hydro, the highest paid person in the city.

In the past six years rates have increased 50%. 

Nelson Hydro is their kingdom, I as a City of Nelson hydro ratepayer have no access to “free” experts or counsel as an intervener in their rate increases. 

I must depend on the mayor and city council.   

A Fortis or BC Hydro customer has the right to “free” experts and legal council as interveners at the BC Utilities Commissions rate reviews. 

Over half Nelson hydro customers live outside the city, they are under the jurisdiction of the BCUC and have those rights.   At this time, the profits are given to the city, unlike the Chelan county non-profit corporation returning their profits to their ratepayers as reduced rates,  3c/kWh! 

Might the more than half of Nelson hydro customers living outside the city be paying a stealth tax to the city via high electricity rates?  Maybe some regional directors could look behind that curtain. 

At a recent Nelson Hydro budget meeting I attended, Nelson Hydro manager Alex Love suggested the extra costs to maintain rural power could justify a 10% premium for Nelson hydro customers outside the city!  

You rurally are also paying full retail for their feel good solar garden power while clean green water just spills over the dam and the 500% profit made from selling it.

Norm Yanke, Nelson BC