Electricity increase adopted

Turn out the lights or dig into your wallet a little deeper.

New Westminster council has approved a bylaw that will raise hydro rates in the city by nine per cent as of April 1.

The increase is in line with the nine percent rise the provincial government approved for BC Hydro rates. New West's electric utility purchases its electricity from BC Hydro.

The increase means a household will pay $100.29 if it uses 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in a month, an increase of $8.28, said a report to council by Roderick Carle, the general manager of the city's electric utility commission.

"Even with the proposed rates, electricity rates in New Westminster will continue to be amongst the lowest in North America," said Carle.

He also noted the city has always set its electricity rates in step with BC Hydro.

Coun. Bill Harper said such an increase imposes a "real drag on the economy" as it often trickles down to consumers who end up paying more for services and goods manufactured in B.C.

Coun. Chuck Puchmayr blamed BC Hydro for the increased burden on city residents.

"It's important for the public to know this is BC Hydro raising the rates and not the city," said Puchmayr.

Coun. Betty McIntosh, who opposed the rate increase when it was first proposed by council in March, continued to speak out against it.

"We own our own electrical utility," she said. "We have the right to adopt our own amount.

McIntosh suggested the city could dip into its reserve funds to cushion the blow.

Residents will be notified of the new rates through newspaper ads.


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