FORT MACLEOD - Extensive upgrades to Fort Macleod's electricity distribution system are likely on the way, after Town Council approved its sale Monday, Jan. 22.
Numerous public consultations were held last July, Aug. and Sept., and a non-binding referendum was held during October's civic election.
The results of the referendum indicated that 61-per cent of respondents were not in favour of the sale, while 39-per cent approved it. But Mayor Brent Feyter says based on all the information council had, the decision was collectively made to go ahead with the sale.
"We used all of the feedback we got from residents, as well as all the information we had, and made the decision we felt was best for the future of the community."
The deal, for $4.77 million, will see new power poles, and transformers installed, among other upgrades, according to Feyter.
"First they're buying the system and then it becomes a responsibility to upgrade the system to where it needs to be to meet their own standards. So yes, there will be some investment on their side to bring it up to that."
He says there shouldn't be any tax increases, at least at this point, as a result of the sale.
"Currently Fortis' rates are less than what the town's rates are. And if we had kept the utility, we'd likely have to pay even more. So, it became a decision whether we wanted to go with someone that has more leverage to be able to be able to keep our...get our system to where it needs to be. So, no I don't foresee any increases."
Fort Macleod town council has been working with the company for more than a year, so a possible sale could be completed, says Alana Antonelli, Corporate Communications Manager with FortisAlberta.
"It kind of makes sense. There's this little pocket within our area of service, that we don't currently service, and they're looking at their options, because their system is at a point where it's in need of repairs."
The next steps include going to the Alberta Utilities Commission for regulatory approvals.
"To get it to the point where they could transfer assets and all of that is approved," says Antonelli. "Once that takes place, then we can go in and do a more thorough assessment and start working as soon as we possibly can."
Feyter believes all of the upgrades could take a couple of years to complete, but work could get underway in late 2018, or early 2019.
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