BANFF – Banff residents can expect to see a small hike on their electricity bills to help pay for street lighting replacement and burial of overhead power lines.
The current Fortis franchise fee is four per cent, but council has approved an additional two per cent – 1.1 per cent to create a reserve to replace street Fortis street lights at the end of their lifespan and 0.9 per cent to build a fund for burial of overhead power lines.
Town of Banff officials say the fee is charged to Fortis, which in turn passes that onto customers.
“The additional 1.1 per cent would equate to approximately 70 cents per month to the average user’s bill," said Chris Hughes, the Town of Banff’s manager of corporate services, noting that would increase the average bill from $2.59 cents to $3.30 a month.
“The 0.9 per cent we equate to approximately 60 cents per month per residential bill.”
The 1.1 per cent increase for a street light reserve is estimated to generate an additional $74,000 per year, while the 0.9 per cent to fund burial of overhead power lines would raise about $60,000.
The other four per cent will continue to be used to fund environmental projects.
Mayor Karen Sorensen and Councillor Peter Poole voted against using the fee to pay for burial of power lines. For example, the cost to bury lines along one block of an alley along Banff Avenue was estimated at $2 million.
“I just can’t see the dent we’re going to make; $60,000 a year doesn’t even touch the problem,” said the mayor.
On the other hand, Coun. Brian Standish voiced support for a fund for power line burial.
“I don’t think I have to remind council that we have some of the best vistas in the world,” he said.
“Anything we can do to bury these power lines we’d be remiss to not try and do something. It’s small, but every little bit counts.”
There are currently 13,038 metres of overhead power lines within the Town of Banff boundary, and 3,103 metres of those are within the downtown core.
Resident Hugh Pettigrew, who ran against Sorensen in the 2017 municipal election, voiced concern during the meeting.
“So it’s another tax,” he said.