February 23rd, 2018

Electricity overcharge should be returned


By Letter to the Editor on January 6, 2018.

We begin this by asking a question of the city residential electric users if they observed the submission to city council’s Finance Committee meeting on Nov. 20 by the City’s Electric Services manager on the 2018 electricity tariff.

The manager reported to council (his words) that over the past few years “our rates have over-collected transmission access fees from our customers” – you, the users. He goes on to say that this money needs to be returned to all rate classes, which includes residential users – $5 per month.

We were somewhat pleased with the Electric Services manager’s proposed action on a reduced residential monthly user fee on the transmission charge. It seemed to be of no concern to members of city council who control the City distribution tariff.

We would ask the residential electricity users look at their 2018 City electric bill under billing line “Transmission Charge,” which is an AUC Alberta-controlled ISO tariff, to be reduced $5 a month, and also the City-controlled rider, a Local Access Fee (LAF) which is to be reduced to $9.59 in 2018.

It should be noted the new city council approved a $5 increase to their distribution charge on your bill. They say $36 monthly. Figure this, residential customers – 41,000 x $36 x12 = $17,712,000.

A letter was forwarded to the city council on behalf of residential electricity users for return of transmission credits, user fees for the past two years – 2017, $7,303,866, and 2018, $7,458,254, and extended to the past four years.

So we have been overcharged for past years; the members of council should have questioned the electricity manager on this. It will be up to the citizens to intervene regarding their residential electricity user fee charges; the money needs to be returned.

Ken Ikle

Spokesperson for Committee for Residential Utilities

Lethbridge

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12 Responses to “Electricity overcharge should be returned”

  1. Montreal13 says:

    Thank you once again ,Mr. Ikle for your continued attention to these matters. Wish we had about 6 more of you on council and another one for mayor.
    Folks out there please email you’re elected representatives and demand to know how they intend to represent you on these matters. They are suppose to be looking out for you!
    Why don’t we just dump them for a city ombudsman, independent auditors and independent researchers who’s job it is to get the facts and proceed accordingly? A policing and accounting process that truly oversees the details and responds to its shareholders (taxpayers) accordingly,is hugely lacking. Clearly that is the role of a city manager to council, but that department doesn’t seem to be held to account by anyone. And in fact council is unable to demand to see receipts ,documents of any kind . The city manager and department heads can stall and be as evasive on such matters for as long as they want to be. If a councilor or councilor candidate asks too many of the right questions and enough times(not just the first dumb question) ,city admin. and followers , just wait til the next election and they put what influence they have to bare on who gets reelected or elected. For some of the clowns on council; city admin. would be delighted to have stay for another 7 or 9 terms. Low voter turnout aids in this process, perfectly. Your elected representatives, if they had enough backbone should be bringing in the minister of municipal affairs to address this lack of communication and information. If you realize how much we are kept in the dark on such matters as Mr. Ikle addresses in his letter,that is one thing, but that council is often as well,makes any idea of democracy a complete circus.
    So, because your elected representatives will not bring in the minister of municipal affairs, where by they would have to have the character to admit how useless their role has become, the residents need to. minister.municipalaffairs@gov.ab.ca
    If more people started writing to the minister every week for awhile ,we may get the attention we need to move responsibly into the future. The little town of Fort Macleod did it. Medicine Hat did it. The largest political science department and the number of people taking or have taken political science degrees in this area and we are too afraid to question our institutions? Let alone try and take them to task. Does the local university and schools just produce puppets? Lethbridge council and residents are managed no differently than the work camp cities were in the Grapes of Wrath. Totally controlled in thought and action to the city admin. overlords.

  2. biff says:

    surprising there are not yet numerous responses! thank you for an excellent entry, ki. i agree, and again, demand a full auditing of all of the city’s financials. let us work back from now to 5 years, then another 5, then another 5 … i expect we will want another 5 after that given all the juicy details that get uncovered.
    an add-on: fine contribution, mtl13. i will use the handy link provided and email the minister immediately upon hitting “save” here.

  3. already extinct says:

    Yes it is simply amazing isn’t it that few regard the misappropriation of public monies with the distain due. Thanks Mr. Ikle, Montreal 13 and biff for weighing in.

    I don’t understand enough of what goes on down there, or even where there is anymore I haven’t been down there for a long time, but on certain days I get a whiff of something I’m sure comes from that area fouling my part of the city, and now I have an idea where that smell is coming from.

    Thanks for the tip everyone. I’ll be taking my complaint to the minister in charge of smells – isn’t that the Environment minishyster what’s his name Shynon McPhillips or something like that.

    I’ll look it up Monday, but any help in the interim will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  4. snowman says:

    your comments are dead on. there is more to
    this story on electric charges. The intention if
    City council who have control and are responsible
    for Lethbridge Electric services do not respond the
    the service of the Alberta Abundsman could be sought.
    I would commend Mr. Stewart Pirkis, Manager of
    Electric Services for his presentation and allowing
    us to put the pieces together on this issue .

  5. biff says:

    i have emailed the minister’s office, at minister.municipalaffairs@gov.ab.ca
    i encourage others concerned to do the same, and i consent to allowing one to copy and paste my entry below to further the make the process as easy as possible. works well for peta and ida :)…

    dear minister,
    the city of lethbridge has long appeared woefully under served by its city council. it seems to be that city administration exert too much control over the ability for elected members to adequately govern our city. i am concerned, as well, that much goes on involving exchanges of money/property that should require periodic independent auditing. here are 2 examples to which i refer:

    1) Back in 2008 the City lost over $20 million it invested in a commodity known as Asset Backed Commercial Paper. there is much to this event, and it never was subject to any real investigation, and most importantly, an independent audit.

    2) not quite 10 years ago, the city of lethbridge appeared to have well overpaid for a property downtown that was home to an iga store. the city used a property appraiser from calgary to assess the value. while a local outfit would have likely been a wiser choice to provide an accurate value, it further appears the appraisal was conducted with peer expressed concerns. moreover, the city of lethbridge actually paid the realtor fees, and not the seller, which is most unusual. here is a link that may help you understand the basis of concerns, which are several, regarding this deal.
    https://electlethbridge.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/how-did-the-iga-property-get-sold-through-an-unlicensed-brokerage/

    again, i call for an independent audit of these 2 examples, as well as other city of lethbridge financial transactions. council, nor city administration, appear willing to make this happen.

    • George McCrea says:

      Biff. You have some details. The City has got all the ABCP
      money back apparently. What no one wants to talk
      About us the interest list in all these funds over 7 years or so.
      Millions were lost. Documentation I received
      Indicated the City had invested over 2 million in a fund
      For a period of I believe 51 days. They invested it and lost it.
      The difference in return had they invested in a simple
      GIC was a gain of $600.00. So for 600.00 we lost
      Several million. A brilliant investment strategy.
      As to the IGAproperty at the time it was appraised
      It was empty. The City did not get an appraisal but
      Had the owner get the appraisal. The appraisal
      Was for 4.4 million and that is what the City paid
      For the now Casa property. I saw a synopsis of the appraisal
      As getting the full appraisal was impossible as it was
      Conveniently private. The appraisal compared two
      Businesses, Toys r Us and the now empty Sobeys to come up
      With the 4.4 mil. So two going concerns were used to
      Appraise an empty building and we paid through the
      Nose. The 4.4 mil did not include asbestos removal and
      Tearing the joint down. The real estate deal was another
      Matter in that a person was sanctioned for not
      having a proper brokers licence to do this deal. I had all this info
      When I ran for council but no one gave a shit.
      People were more interested in riding in a parade or
      Green garbage cans. I got my assessment today. Went up 32k in
      One year.

  6. Montreal13 says:

    Last I heard they had not got all the money back. It was about 5mil short. I believe someone filed a freedom of info request on this and from what I remember much was blacked out. The opportunity costs were huge, meaning what that money could have earned during that time period that it sat in space somewhere. Mr. McCrea makes reference to this.Was Mayor Tarleck in office at the time, that this started.?
    The CASA episode is partly why another mayoralty candidate(who was a councilor at the time) did not get elected over Spearman, in my opinion. Unfortunate, as again the elected reps were party to a certain amount of info ,only . Which is a pattern that appears to be continued to this day. . Much of this didnot come out til the poop hit the fan, as in the ABCP episode.
    Was all this because a city manager was over his head? Could the city have sued the financial rep as investments didnot meet city investment guidelines at the time? Should department heads have rolled? Were there outside parties involved that were personal friends of insiders? In other cities concerned citizen groups(Hamilton was one)sued their city hall for the loss. How that finally ended up ,other people will probably remember better.. Many questions will never be answered, it appears. I know just from the loss of honour and failing in their duty in some parts of the world- elected reps would have stepped down.
    I believe it is mostly or partly suppose to work like this: city hires component people,they handle day to day etc. , some issues are brought to council for their vote,council is totally dependent on city staff’s knowledge and data presented to review etc. It goes on and on but perhaps you can see some weaknesses in the chain. And of course there doesn’t appear to be accountability on the part of city staff. That may be why council hires soo many consultants. Do they not trust highly paid full time staff to know ? We taxpayers are double billed on many issues. I think I understand why. Council appears to be left holding what is left of the bag, in these episodes.
    Residents elect who we elect .I think we should be taking on some of the responsibility for these happenings. We don’t appear to favour the accountant,knowledgeable, experienced types(or to be able to tell who says they are and those who actually are) as apposed to just those who have been there for soo long and win on name recognition. Any other theories ,opinions out there? How else do you explain Mark Campbell who said I have no idea and no platform. But ,I believe he received just about as many votes as the second term mayor. A large number of people didn’t even vote for a mayor,they left that blank on their ballots.
    Mr. McCrea, it is not that some people don’t give a shit. There is no public,formal,large platform where citizens at large are given the opportunity to have these issues addressed. All election forums are controlled by large powerful groups. They set the agenda. Audience participation is tightly controlled ,even SACPA’s. Audiences are given limited time or chance to ask questions. Is this by accident? The taxpayers have limited chance to have any control on a discussion of the issues important to them. No one is comfortable with real debate? No wonder name recognition wins. Powerful union groups and others send out voter suggestions to their members, church goers get a list from their pastors – its crazy. Joe voter could send out questionnaires to all candidates if they want or to just a few with questions important to them. You have to decide,is that candidate just telling me what they think I want to hear, to get a vote? If they haven’t been a councilor before or have followed alot of city business,do they really have any idea what they are talking about,before they run for mayor? Are there some weaknesses in this chain , as well? Sure looks like it from many perspectives to me.

  7. George McCrea says:

    You have some excellent points. I refer to my comment about giving a s—t. I agree with you to some degree, however, when only 29% vote, about 3 % give a S—t about this monetary stuff or money matters despite appearances of abnormalities. Most are into fluoride, backyard burning, parades and green garbage bins and as you say those groups and agendas are in place well in advance. It turns council into pawns, catering to those interest groups to stay elected. That I guess was my point.

  8. biff says:

    just to say thank you to ken, george, mtl13 and snowman for taking the time to provide appreciated, thoughtful, and excellent insights. i truly hope we can start a wave of calls that will begin a long overdue independently run auditing process. i fear we may uncover a recurring list of familiar names that appear in the loop, perhaps even some local “heroes”.
    as for the election of mr campbell, in addition to the immense recognition factor and that he appears as affable, perhaps the voters were simply desperate for the promise of sunnier days to come?

  9. already extinct says:

    yes biff et al, thanks for your input….. “local hero’s” alright!!!

    It’s very possible our local hero/celebrity turned councillor highest achievement may be acquiring a spot near the top on the City Managers Christmas and BBQ list. We’ll be watching!

    It really is funny (not really) how politics work.

    You can ask (and I have) almost anyone a simple question (along the lines of Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dog) and the average idiot will get the answer wrong 50% of the time -they know nothing about what goes on and as George says they don’t give a …..- just put it on the card!!

    In fact if Trudeau or Oprah appeared on some goof ball TV show with a Cotton -top Tamarin around their neck – a Cotton -Top Tamarin could be the next finance minister or in Oprah’s case, the next director of the FBI – the idolatry in politics has become that bloody dumb!

    • biff says:

      and thanks to you as well, al ex, as i overlooked you having entered in on this as well 🙂
      one speech on a topical issue and oprah is now ready to be acclaimed pres of the usa

      • George McCrea says:

        A little off topic. What Oprah should have said by Mark Levine

        ‘I’m standing here before you today Hollywood and you should be embarrassed of yourselves. You should all be embarrassed of yourselves to be part of a community that tolerated decades of debauchery, decades of sexual molestation, decades of sexual harassment. And there are many of you in the audience who knew who the perpetrators are and were and never came forward, in order to protect your careers or promote your careers. And you may be sitting next to many the victims of the very men who you protected. That is a disgrace!’

        And yes, Bob Tarleck was the Mayor during the IGA land deal. I spoke with him personally.


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