By declining to increase ATCO’s franchise fee, power bills in High Prairie will not increase
South Peace News
High Prairie town council will not be increasing the franchise fee ATCO Electric pays for the right to do business in High Prairie.
It’s good news for High Prairie citizens because an increase in the franchise fee would trigger an increase in power bills to compensate.
Council made the decision at its Sept. 8 meeting but not before realizing there were some benefits to incre asing the fee.
“It’s an opportunity to look at another revenue source,” said Mayor Brian Panasiuk.
CAO Rod Risling added the matter “needs to be investigated more” seeing the tight financial restraints council is experiencing.
“I would strongly recommend looking at this in the next budget cycle,” he said.
Councillor Debbie Rose wanted the rate to remain the same, knowing an increase would result in increased power bills.
“You have to look at everything,” said Risling.
Panasiuk noted the benefit to increasing the franchise fee is that revenue would be generated from “non-paying grounds” such as the schools and hospital.
High Prairie’s rate of 7.5 per cent of distribution revenue netted council about $240,000 least year. The 7.5 per cent rate is about middle of the pack compared to other municipalities in Alberta.
Council’s decision to keep the rate equal to last year was unanimous.
However, council also motioned to forward the matter to budget deliberations to consider an increase for the 2022 budget year.