City council plans to raise residential hydro rates by 2.25 per cent starting on April 1.
“For the average residential user that will be an increase of $1.16 per month,” Nelson Hydro manager Alex Love told the Star.
He said the increase is to cover inflation and to add to the utility’s capital reserve fund that is used to construct and upgrade infrastructure.
Materials presented to council on Dec. 4 stated that the rate increase will see a reduction in the operating budget from 2017 of 2.28 per cent, and an increase in Nelson Hydro’s dividend to the city from $2,700,000 to $2,754,000.
Nelson Hydro’s rate increase for 2017 was 4.28 per cent and for 2016, 3.8 per cent. Love said this year’s is lower because the cold January and February led to greater energy use and therefore greater revenue. He said the very heavy spring freshet also meant the utility could generate extra power. Also, much of the work of rebuilding generation, transmission, and distribution systems has been completed over the past eight years, he said, and as a result Nelson Hydro is “ahead of the curve.”
He said the utility is looking into generating electricity in the city’s water system, in the several pressure reducing stations around town and in any future infrastructure when the city adds additional water sources. These discussions are in the early stages he said, although in recent renovations to the pressure reducing stations, space was created for adding electrical generation technology in the future.
The rate increase passed third reading at a council meeting on Dec. 4 and will be presented for final adoption in the spring with the budget is finalized. That will be preceded by a public meeting, for which the date has not been set, at which the budget will be explained to the public and feedback received.
Detailed information presented to council is attached to the online version of this story at nelsonstar.com.
Council also made the decision not to raise garbage collection rates passed third reading.
The annual charge will continue to be $40 and the cost of a garbage tag will still be $1.50.
The city’s Colin McClure told the Star that over the course of 2017, residents’ compliance with recycling rules — what can be recycled and what can’t — improved markedly, resulting in fewer recycling bags being rejected and put into the landfill.
This in turn meant lower tipping fees at the transfer station as a result of lighter garbage trucks.
McClure said this resulted in lower costs, despite higher wages during a month where more people were put on the garbage runs to educate residents about recycling practices.