City has a policy of keeping its rates in step with Maritime Electric
SUMMERSIDE - Summerside electricity customers will shoulder the same electricity hike facing Maritime Electric customers across P.E.I.
The city has had a policy for more than a decade of keeping its rates in step with those of the Island’s major electricity provider.
However, council still holds a discussion at the committee level whenever such a rate change comes up and did so at its Tuesday night meeting.
Maritime Electric and the provincial government have applied to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission for a rate increase of 2.3 per cent each year for the next three years, for a total of 6.9 per cent at the end of the third year.
Glenn MacKay, a city resident who has run for council in the past, called on council to stop its rate matching policy in order to keep Summerside’s rates lower than those of Maritime Electric.
It’s a move that some in the city have been calling for in recent years, most notably the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce.
But it’s not just the business community that wants a break, said MacKay.
It was his experience of going to door-to-door in the 2014 election that prompted him to address council.
“A lot of people complained and said they have to choose between food, meds or electricity, a lot of the elderly people. I don’t think rate increases are fair right now considering that the province is hurting, the country is hurting and we’re mounting on to that with more rate increases,” he said.
“A lot of people complained and said they have to choose between food, meds or electricity, a lot of the elderly people" Glenn MacKay, city resident and former candidate for council
Summerside council has said it’s looking to create a reserve fund for the city’s utilities to deal with infrastructure needs, unexpected shortfalls and so on.
Profits from its electric utility could go towards such a pot of money.
“Before I sat in this seat I said the same thing. ‘Why are we paying so much, why do (rates) keep going up,’” said Coun. Tyler Descroches.
“But just last week we were informed that there’s 1,332 telephone poles in Summerside that have to be changed. Couple of million dollars right there.
“There’s so much more to the situation so much has been missed in the past number of years that has not been looked at,” he added.
Summerside Mayor Bill Martin added that decisions to raise rates, taxes and fees are never easy, but they are sometimes necessary.
“The decisions that are made here are made primarily for our kids,” said Martin.
“We’ve got to make prudent decisions, day in and day out.”