UMNB brings municipal street light overcharging to light 

For the first time, NB Power will have to tackle the cost of street lights for municipalities – because of the Union of the Municipalities of New Brunswick (UMNB).

In response to concerns raised by UMNB, the Electricity and Utilities Board (EUB) directed that issues related to municipal street lighting services be dealt with in NB Power’s rate design hearing. The EUB released its decision on NB Power’s general rate application on July 20. This was the first time UMNB has appeared before the EUB.

The EUB’s decision puts the issue of street light costs for municipalities on the table for the first time. When the rate design hearing began in 2017, street lights were not mentioned in the evidence document, and municipalities were not included in the stakeholder consultations.

According to the EUB, NB Power is supposed to bill each customer class approximately equal what it costs them to provide the service, within a 10% “range of reasonableness.” But in the case of street lights, municipalities are being charged almost double the cost of providing the service.

“Every dollar municipalities overpay for street lights is money they can’t spend on infrastructure, services, and lower rates,” said UMNB President Bev Gaston. “All we’re asking is that the rules be followed.”

The EUB did not mandate a rate freeze. That means municipalities still pay too much – based on the EUB’s own standard. “Overpaying for street lights puts a big financial burden on municipalities. Our citizens are the ones who pay,” said Mr. Gaston. “Starting now, municipalities are standing up for our residents.”

UMNB is taking action for New Brunswick’s municipalities. UMNB’s members will discuss this resolution and next steps at their Annual Conference, from September 28-30 in Fredericton.

The Union of the Municipalities of New Brunswick (UMNB) is a bilingual association of member municipalities across New Brunswick, including cities, towns, villages and rural communities. UMNB works to ensure the priorities of municipalities – and their citizens – are heard.