LETTER: Hydro smoke and mirrors

From reader Norm Yanke....

LETTER: Hydro smoke and mirrors

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 per cent profit. Lets look at Chelan County, Wa. south of us, they 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.

Since Alex Love came to Nelson hydro about six years ago, rates have increased 50 per cent.

Nelson Hydro is their kingdom, I as a city of Nelson hydro ratepayer have no access to “free” experts or counsel as an intervenor 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 intervenors at the BC Utilities Commissions rate reviews.

Over half of 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.

At a recent Nelson Hydro budget meeting I attended, Mr. Love suggested the extra costs to maintain rural power could justify a 10 per cent premium for Nelson Hydro customers outside the city!

Those in rural areas are also paying full retail for their feel good solar garden power, while clean green water just spills over the dam and the 500 per cent profit made from selling it.

Norm Yanke

Nelson