Would like Kelowna to reconsider sale of utility

I sincerely hope the city will reconsider the sale of its electrical supply system to FortisBC, in the interests of the citizens of Kelowna.

To the editor:

In the 1970s, Kelowna city council and the electrical manager decided to convert the overhead lines to an underground system and carry out a voltage conversion.

There was an agreement between the city and West Kootenay Power and Light (WKPL) there would be no under-build on the transmission poles owned by WKPL.

Today, there are under-builds on numerous streets since FortisBC has taken over the maintenance of the city electrical system.

It seems the utility is going back to the 1900s when overhead lines were normal.

The staff at City Hall are saying the utility will have to spend a large sum of money on the maintenance of the system. I doubt that, as the system was built in the 1970s and ’80s.

The city should only need to install new cables to meet the added power demand, as the existing cables should last a life-time if they are not over-loaded, plus there is extra ducting on most streets.

In my opinion, the price of $55 million (sale of Kelowna utility to FortisBC) is too low. The system has three substations with up-to-date switching gear, with many switches in the system and underground cables.

In the 1980s, when the system was being built, the profit at the time was about $1 million. If no rebuilding had been taking place, the profit would be in the region of $2 million.

If the city had their own staff, the profit could be close to $4 million.

I sincerely hope the city will reconsider the sale of its electrical supply system to FortisBC, in the interests of the citizens of Kelowna.

Robert McAndrew,

Kelowna