Wednesday, March 29, 2017

BCUC -- So Much For "Public Opinion"

Their "call for comments" produced such a spiralled web of crapola that it's difficult to even wade through their website listings on the issue of electricity rate tiers in British Columbia.

Good ole' Wacky Bennett must be rolling over in his grave right about now.
But he's the only one who'd have time to read it all...

My November 23, 2016 blog post on the issue is here.
We all know hydro's electricity rates have been going up and up and up for years; have a look at their 2012 document on conservation.

My November blog post had ended with the phrase:  " let's see if BCUC will come up with an analytical and thoughtful reply to their request for comments from the public."

Anyone suffering from insomnia can cure themselves by wading through the following BCUC stuff that was sent to me today in response to my "Public Comment letter".

To cut to the chase, B.C. Hydro's (through their arms-length approval function, the B.C. Utilities Commission), still hasn't seen the public outrage that since  no “baseline all electric” was determined, which would have led to higher average monthly electrical usage and a resulting higher Tier 1 level before Tier 2 rates “kicked in”, this public submission process led to exactly what the BCUC and B.C. Hydro and the current B.C. government wanted:  public input that could then be ignored, and business would go on as usual.

Anyway, here's the email I just received:

"The BCUC has issued its independent report requested by the BC Government in response to public concerns raised about BC Hydro and FortisBC’s residential inclining block (RIB) rates. As you provided a letter of comment that was considered as a part of this report, we have enclosed a pdf link to the Report.

To see all documents submitted as a part of this process, please see the following link: BCUC RIB Rate Report 
Thank you for participating in this process.
Regulatory Services
British Columbia Utilities Commission
Sixth Floor, 900 Howe Street, Vancouver, BC   V6Z 2N3
Tel:  604-660-4700 | Email:"

The 32-page Exhibit List is here.
My submission shows up on page 30, numbered E-567.

Still haven't cured your insomnia?
Well, the following will do it:  have a peek at the 2,139-page (yessiree Bob!), the 2,139 page 2015 Rate Design Application.

Doing a Ctrl-Find search of the word "baseline" leads to these statements:
  • On page 6
    -28, BC Hydro says
    : “.... AMPC stated that the inability to annually adjust baselines to reflect
    changes in use is a significant problem for a heterogeneous class, and thus a flat energy rate may be more useful in providing a conservation price signal than a tiered energy rate.”

  • The mechanism of LGS rate structure include a provision for new accounts where the last 15 percent of energy consumed in a monthly billing period will be charged at the Part 2 energy rate rather than at the Part 1 energy rate until a baseline level of consumption is established one year hence.
  • LGS Flat Energy Rate
    - A LGS flat energy rate eliminates all complexity-related issues resulting from the baseline component of the SQ LGS Energy Rate and aligns with how other similarly situated Canadian electric utilities structure larger general service energy rates (predominantly flat). However, there is a trade
    -off between the customer understanding and acceptance and the economic efficiency criteria because the flat energy rate would not be reflective of LRMC (F2017: LGS flat energy rate is 5.37cents/kWh with demand charge cost recovery at 65 per cent, and the lower end of the energy LRMC range is 9.46 cents/kWh)
  •   “Initially, freshet energy volumes will be calculated hourly by determining
    energy consumption in excess of an average MW (aMW) baseline determined in consultation with the participating customer.”
    BC Hydro sought feedback on four baseline options on slide 27 of the Workshop 10 presentation and ultimately received broad stakeholder support for pursuing Option 3,an average MW baseline discussed on page 34 of the Workshop 10 consideration memo, giving customers the ability to respond to daily HLH and LLH price signals.Options 1 and 2 were rejected because they used average freshet prices, across an entire month or season, and would have sent customers an inferior price signal relative
    to the use of an average MW baseline in Option 3.
From page 65: 
Were there any issues with setting baselines, implementation and billing?

Frankly...I quit after page 65 of 2,139.
Just couldn't pause my life for however long it would take to get through this one link!

So here's their pertinent comment: 

"B.C. Hydro's conclusion, which is also supported by COPE 378 and BCESA, is that the Customer Specific Baseline Rate is impractical due to the large number of customers, and will impose significant implementation challenges."

What does that mean?

"It means they're too lazy to canvass B.C. customers ( IS the computer age)," Kia would've said, "to accurately get a customer specific baseline", instead of guessing at it."

So, what's MY summary now?

  • Get ready for time-of-use (ToU) energy billing in British Columbia (as in Ontario, for most of their customers).

  • Get ready for continued single-digit (~5? ~6 per cent) increases...year after year after year.

...oh, and just wait until Greater Vernon Water figures out how to charge for time-of-use water consumption *grin*.

Try telling that to B.C. Hydro and the B.C. Utilities Commission!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Opening Date 2017

Highlands Short-Game Excellence will begin the 2017 season at Noon on Saturday, April 1st.

First men's night is scheduled for Tuesday, April 18th.

Might be a long list *grin*

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Wednesday's Gouging

...Brutal Wednesday.

That's this Wednesday, March 29th, 2017 when the annual pickpocketing of our water rates is being discussed.
And of course approved.

Sure, rates are going up again.
But don't believe what officials said...that it'll be 3-something percent this year (for three years).

Have a look at Highlands irrigation consumption costs Q2 & Q3 2016 vs. projected 2017:

"Wonder if officials are sitting at the Kal Lake Lookout doing Exit Interviews as business leaves the North Okanagan," Kia would've said.

Yes, Greater Vernon Water will get their wish and reduce overall business leaves this town to settle in communities that are friendlier to the economic machine that drives small communities.

Greater Vernon Advisory Committee members should be ashamed of what they're allowing bureaucrats to get away with.

GVAC members?  Think!!!!!!

Not that they care...

Agriculture Water Rates Increase

Greater Vernon Water, obviously bowing to years-long pressure from residents, is finally increasing agricultural water rates--albeit by a measly amount that doesn't address the cost of treating irrigation water to the same standards as domestic.

Why?  Because separating domestic from irrigation water wasn't GVW's priority.
Bureaucrats and consultants even went so far as to tell residents that grants would not be available for separating the two systems...a fact now proven incorrect with the awarding of grants to the Kelowna area, for just that purpose!

"Currently between $950,000 and $1,050,000 is collected for agricultural water use, but the actual cost is much more," says Kiss-FM's website on March 23rd, 2017.

No kidding.

So a 3.7% ag water rate increase is going to be phased in over three years.

A measly one-point-something increase a year?

"...right now we are falling a little bit short of capturing that through agricultural rates," said Bob Fleming, chair of Regional District North Okanagan."

A bit short?

Agriculture will still, after 3 years, contribute barely 4 per cent of GVW's annual budget.

Source:  G.Kiss

"Yeah, considering that agriculture uses 15 per cent more water annually than domestic," Kia would've said, "I'd agree they're a bit short."

A lot short.

Kelowna's grant March 19th blog post here.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Kelowna's Grant Proves GVW Lied to us

Gyula Kiss has posted this article on his blog, on March 18th, 2017, which he followed with his customary common sense that catches Greater Vernon Water officials with their pants down...and proves they lied to North Okanagan residents.

First, the story about Kelowna's grant:


Kelowna recives $44 million for domestic water separation

March 17, 2017

A successful funding application for Phase 1 of the 2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan means clean safe drinking water is one step closer for citizens of South East Kelowna and a plentiful supply of agricultural irrigation water is coming to the South Mission.

The federal and provincial governments approved the City of Kelowna funding application of $43.9 million to bring treated lake water to South East Kelowna Irrigation District (SEKID) ratepayers for domestic use, and to resolve irrigation supply problems for the South Okanagan Mission Irrigation District (SOMID). The project will also allow another five small private water systems to connect. 

The total project cost is $61.3 million, with a combined local contribution of $17.4 million representing 28 per cent of total project costs.

“Funding of this magnitude is something we rarely see – in fact, this is the largest single grant anyone at the City can remember receiving,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “I want to thank the federal and provincial governments for acknowledging this essential need in Kelowna and for committing to help ensure our citizens have safe clean drinking water for a rapidly growing population a resilient and redundant water supply system to meet our agricultural needs in the face of climate change.”

A transition plan, a requirement of the provincial government and the grant application, is underway to map out the process for SEKID and the City of Kelowna to work together on Phase 1 of the 2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan.  Pending the timely completion of a successful transition agreement clean drinking water is anticipated to be delivered to the majority of SEKID ratepayers by the end of 2019, or earlier if possible, with a target completion date to all SEKID customers by 2020.  In addition to the significant direct cost savings to ratepayers the project would also be completed 10 years faster than without government funding. The work to service SOMID is also expected to be completed by 2019.

“The plan achieves more than just good water quality – it will also achieve rate equity, a more resilient and robust system and maintains the interest of our agricultural community,” said Project Manager Ron Westlake.

The grant announcement will allow for the initial phase of the long-term integration plan to be implemented and set the groundwork for future integration.  Phase 1 includes the separation of agricultural and domestic systems in SEKID; in the short-term domestic water will be supplied through a new transmission line connecting to the City of Kelowna’s water distribution system from Okanagan Lake.  Agricultural water will continue to be supplied from Hydraulic Creek with emergency connections to the domestic supply in the event of service disruption. Phase 1 will also see a sustainable agricultural water supply delivered to SOMID, along with upgrades to the City of Kelowna’s water utility to supply both SEKID and SOMID and accommodate future growth.

The overall direction for an integrated system is established by the 2017 Kelowna Integrated Water Supply Plan and will inform future phases. The plan was developed using existing plans during a Value Planning exercise held in January, as a provincial requirement to determine the best lowest cost city-wide solution. The study was conducted by an objective engineering firm from the United States, with the participation of local water experts. 

The new plan will achieve:
Clean drinking water for all citizens

Agricultural interests maintained and protected
A resilient and redundant system that will help Kelowna navigate an uncertain future when it comes to climate change and increased regulation

Equitable rates, supply and service – some residents are paying twice as much as others for water that doesn’t meet Canadian guidelines, depending on which irrigation district is supplying the water.
“This plan will eventually ensure all our citizens have clean drinking water at equitable rates, while our domestic and agricultural needs are met with an integrated system that has the flexibility to draw water from a number of options to meet demand,” said Mayor Basran.
So much for GVWU staff's arguments that government grants would not be available for domestic water separation. 
We will be the only community in the valley to spend millions of dollars to treat agricultural water with ultra violet irradiation and eventually filtration only to use 80% of it on agricultural irrigation. Good job, consultants and staff!
SEKID customers, who earlier rejected a borrowing referendum of about $25 million, will now be getting a brand new domestic line attached to the City of Kelowna's domestic water supply from Okanagan Lake courtesy of senior governments grants of $44 million.

To date we spent over $70 million on our soon(?) to be updated Master Water Plan. (Only $35 million was authorized by ratepayers in the 2004 referendum). About 60% of these monies were spent on altering the perfectly functioning irrigation system. The remainder was spent on the domestic water supply improvements from Kal Lake. 
GVWU staff recently released the expected long term budget for the Master Water Plan. 
In addition to the already spent $70+ million we can expect to spend an additional $147 million for a grand total of over $215 million for the plan. And these are the estimates by the same people who estimated the cost of the Duteau Creek Treatment Plant at $16 million (final cost almost$30 million). About $111 million of this money will be spent on the irrigation system (the old VID) for a grand total of about $156 million. The cost of the original VID system was $7.9 million.
There is one more important thing to remember: staff and politicians do not want to fail this time. So instead of going out for another referendum the proposal is to collect money from us in advance through water rates. The annual amount would be about the same as our annual cost of financing would have been for the rejected $70 million (in the range of $4-5 million annually). When sufficient reserves are collected in future years then portions of the plan will be constructed as money allows.
The problem with this approach is that many of us will never see the improvements we are paying for in advance. It's like someone setting aside money for a house so he/she would not have to borrow. In the meantime he/she lives in a rental home while the cost of the dream house keep escalating and part of the mortgage is spent on the rental. Instead, if the plan is the right plan, we should borrow the funds and pay while enjoying the benefits of a new MWP. I would be the first one to vote for a normal, separated domestic/agriculture water system. This plan is not the right plan!
Look for future discussions on this very important issue for our community right here in this blog.
Next: The hidden costs of the current proposed MWP! Who is paying for what and the cost to you!
"Kelowna's grant to assist in separating domestic from irrigation water is proof that G.V.W. lied to us..." Kia would've said.
...the bull(****) from Greater Vernon Water Utility...
 A big thank you to Gyula Kiss...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Proof That It Doesn't Matter? we voted in the last Fed election?

*grin*, as they say!

Finally, some of that huge Federal deficit spending is coming our way!  The North Okanagan's Greater Vernon Water utility is receiving just shy of $6 million for Duteau Creek Water Treatment Plant's UV disinfection plan...maybe that includes the air-scrubbing that officials hoped for.

And about $3 million for a sewer extension project in Okanagan Landing...residents had been promised sewer...oh...about 20 years ago, if I recall.

On the sewer grant, Vernon's Mayor Akbal Mund gushed “It’s great that we’re getting the money from grants. It obviously saves the taxpayers a lot of money and moves it forward.”

Saves the taxpayers a lot of money?

Whatever they're doling out is our tax money to begin with, Mayor Mund!
That's what enables deficit spending, as well as the Federal government's penchant for borrowing what it lacks...more bucks -- a decidedly Liberal theme.
We're on the hook for paying back all that borrowed money too.

Also included are:  $107,900 for Coldstream's sewer line extension, $200,176 for a groundwater supply evaluation & monitoring well construction in Lumby, and $198,477 for a long-term wastewater treatment plant upgrade in Lumby," according to Kiss-FM News.

"So stop the gushing effusiveness," Kia would've said.


So now Greater Vernon Water can continue throwing good money after bad at know, the water plant that treats water used almost solely for agriculture...

'Coz it didn't matter to GVW residents voted.

Quick Jaunt to US of A

Our WA state neighbours have seen price increases, but many categories remain a lot cheaper south of the border.

And to end on a decidedly tongue-in-cheek note, perhaps the following is a new diet recommendation for folks:

Wonder how many calories hay has...

We used to be outdoors--t-shirt weather--by early March.

"That just proves you're a lot older," Kia would've said.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

It's How You Look At It

...that provides relevant information.

This from a friend:

"Aberdeen reservoir levels are way above average
 so it doesn't matter much with a slightly lower snowpack.
 The mid level snowpack at Duteau is at 105% though,
 funny how that doesn't make the news locally,
 just when there's drama
 and them (Greater Vernon Water)
 trying to justify jacked up rates
 to make us conserve more to save it all."

Then the OBWB:
"...The numbers aren't great..."

The Okanagan Basin Water Board is today quoted in the Morning Star reporting:  "...The numbers aren't great..." because seasonally dry conditions have resulted in lower than normal snowpack at high elevations despite the cold conditions this winter.

"86 per cent of normal snowfall levels for the entire Okanagan."

The B.C. River Forecast Centre report stated that increased snow at low elevations plays a limited role in seasonal flood risk or water supply into the spring and summer.  Their study indicates 86 per cent of normal snowfall levels for the entire Okanagan.

"So what's 'normal'?," Kia would've asked, "snow up to the windowsills?"

14 per cent lower than a normal snow-up-to-the-truckhood level? 


Saturday, March 11, 2017

The "Price" of How the Area Voted

Bob Spiers' blog was careful enough to NOT chastise North Okanagan residents for voting to remain Conservative (Mel Arnold) in the last Federal election.

"The governments of Canada and British Columbia are each providing up to $43,522,512 towards 26 new projects that will benefit 26 small communities throughout the province.

The Small Communities Fund provides support for priority public infrastructure projects that deliver on local needs in communities across Canada that have fewer than 100,000 residents," announces his blog.

But here's the payback, if you've been wondering where all that T2 deficit spending is going/has gone:

Click on graphic to enlarge.
Then scour the list for our area:

Scour, scour, scour...2/3 of the word "scourge"...apropos indeed!

Have a good look at it.
Look again.

Anybody see Vernon or the North Okanagan (specifically Greater Vernon Water) listed?


So much for this October dreaming by Greater Vernon Water and the Regional District of North Okanagan:

     "RECOMMENDATION: October 20, 2016
That it be recommended to the Board of Directors, the funding application for $7,000,000 to the Infrastructure Canada Clean Water and Waste Water Fund, for Greater Vernon Water to complete  the construction of an Ultraviolet Treatment and Air Scrubbing system at the Duteau Creek Water Treatment Plant, be endorsed; and further, That the funding of the Greater Vernon Water share ($1,190,000) be funded from Greater Vernon Water (GVW) reserves."

"Maybe there are more funding opportunities," Kia would've offered Kia wistfully.

We can hope for new funding.

Maybe once our population drops to 5,000 we'll be eligible for more assistance.
We won't be able to afford the streetlights then either.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Two Sides of the Same Coin?

150 lone male farm workers.
...with no place nearby to worship.
Nor a place nearby to purchase personal items.
No family for comfort.

And they presumably won't be working 24/7...

So who will supervise "the camp's" adult--and presumably all-male--population?
And if there is a supervisor, what authority will the individual have over adults?

You decide:

A delegation will make a presentation Monday March 13th at Lavington Fire Hall concerning Dr. Geen's plans to create a work camp (a "Coldstream Housing Project") for temporary farm workers...150 workers  here at the N end of Warren Road in Coldstream valley.

"Coral Beach Farms, the owners of the new cherry orchards here in Lavington, make a lot of noise in our area through the Spring and Summer.  However, you may not be aware that this farm applied for a Development Permit Application on their10512 Warren Road property at the Coldstream Council Meeting February 27, 2017.  This variance would allow them to put in larger (720 square foot) Atco trailers rather than the 376.7 sq. foot “picker cabins” that the current zoning allows.  Sounds reasonable, right?  What they have not told you is that the purpose of this variance is to allow for 150 transient and foreign workers to reside in this “Coldstream Housing Project”.  Ninety eight workers will be in eight (yes just eight) of these 720 sq. foot units.  To comply with most municipal bylaws, the number should be closer to twenty. The rest of the workers, some fifty or more people, will be housed in tents on the ground.  Coral Beach Farms is proposing that workers will live on the property from March until November, with some permanent staff year round.

This application was brought to a tie vote at the Council Meeting February 27, 2017 and the application was denied, BUT our Mayor Jim Garlic stated that he may bring it back to the table at the end of March.  Under our current bylaws, Coral Beach Farms are still free to go ahead and build the smaller cabins and house one hundred and fifty people.

As property owners at 10449 Warren Road we strongly oppose this application and the number of workers proposed to be housed at 10512 Warren Road.  Our fellow Warren Road neighbors feel the same.  We are looking for support from the Lavington community on this issue.

We understand that Coral Beach Farms needs to house workers while their orchard is being picked and with the current zoning, have the right to unlimited number of Picker’s Cabins on this property for this purpose. It is our opinion that this Development Permit Application to increase the area size of worker accommodation is to increase the number of workers they can house at this property.  Under ALR regulations, workers can reside on the property, not for the sole intent of picking the fruit produced on 10512 Warren Road, but to work at any other orchard owed by Coral Beach Farms.  They are in fact creating a trailer park on ALR land. We believe the sole reason they have chosen this property for their “Housing Project” is that the District of Coldstream has no bylaw capping the numbers of farm workers allowed to reside per property but other surrounding Districts and Municipalities do.  Coral Beach Farms home farm is in Lake Country.  Lake Country has agreed to abide by the City of Kelowna’s Temporary Farm Workers Housing Bylaw.  Mr. Geen has found a void in our bylaws and is taking advantage of it in a way that is by no means beneficial to the community of Lavington or the District of Coldstream.

The City of Kelowna, District of Lake Country, Westbank and five other major municipalities in British Columbia are regulated via bylaw to house no more than 40 workers per farm, or to have housing permits individually authorized by city council for any number above ten workers.  

We are asking that The District of Coldstream take this into consideration and enact a Temporary Farm Workers Housing Bylaw to bring our district into agreement with the Central Okanagan’s bylaws.

This many transient people in such a concentrated area will bring potential issues to the entire Lavington Community, not just our neighborhood.  Issues such as: 

·         Security
·         Transportation 
·         Infrastructure and Road Maintenance
·         Other and potential larger camps at any other ALR property in Coldstream - If they can have 150 people in one concentrated camp, there is nothing saying a smaller orchard in a more populated area couldn’t do the same. 

Without a bylaw, all residents of Coldstream could be affected.   If you would like to offer us support on the matter, please send an email to the councilors and state that you oppose the reintroduction of Development Permit Application No. 17-001-DVP, 10512 Warren Road (Geen) and demand The District of Coldstream Council regulate the number of workers that can be housed on any one property via a Temporary Farm Workers Housing Bylaw. 


Last week's council meeting at which the development variance for farm worker housing was voted on led to a tie vote, with Mayor Garlick indicating the variance application may be brought up again in 30 days. 

So what is the other side of the coin?
Read on:

A letter to the editor today, from P. Sault:

"Support Agriculture:
I fully agree with Margot Shaw's excellent letter Feb. 20 regarding those complaining about the noise level from agricultural practices in Coldstream and Lavington.

It is puzzling why they located here rather than downtown Vernon or Lumby?  Was it because it was a leafy green, lovely rural area, or was it because it was cheaper to build or buy out here?

Did they even ask or did their real estate agent not mention the likelihood that noise would arise from time to time from agricultural activities or the pellet plant, mill, tractors and trucks, cows mooing or trains on the railway track? 

Of course the operations are commercial.  They always have been and always will be.  It is ridiculous to expect a farmer to survive financially otherwise.

Coldstream is rural but perhaps you moved here expecting city amenities would follow because you bought a lot.

Presumably you are comfortable with purchasing all of your meat and produce from other countries regardless of cost or how it is grown.  I am not.

Do you go to the farmers market once or twice a week and pat yourself on the back about how you support local growers and farmers?  

Instead of not in my backyard complaints, try being more supportive of these people.

If that is too difficult, then perhaps you might wish to consider relocating to a quieter community, if one is to be found.  If not, and the rules get more and more restrictive, then we may as well throw up our hands and turn the valley over to the developers.

Then you can have your sidewalks, streetlights, extra traffic and much higher taxes amongst other things.

Maybe it is time for the real estate agents to point out a few hard facts to prospective clients and maybe risk losing the sale.  I don't know.

As it is now, our council is faced with difficult decisions trying to plan for growth and sustainable agriculture.  I for one appreciate the environment, the services, and our generally efficient administration out here in Coldstream and sincerely hope they continue to be staunch supporters of all forms of agriculture.
                            P. Sault"

"Whatever position you support, it might be prudent to lock up your daughters," Kia would've said.

Could a coin have three sides?