The New Westminster Electric Utility Commission is staying current by getting a new name to reflect its expanding role.
The commission, which oversees the electric utility and an increasing number of projects such as the city’s urban solar garden, the BridgeNet fibre network and a district energy proposal in Sapperton, will soon be known as the New Westminster Utility Commission. Council has approved the name change, as well as changes to the commission’s bylaw.
So, what’s in a name?
Coun. Bill Harper, a commission member, said the changes to the bylaw reflect the “shifting role” of the utility.
“This is going to become a more important piece to city revenue generation over time than we actually realize today,” he said. “The changes here deal with that, and the need to modernize it in a way that makes it easier to run, more straightforward.”
Mayor Jonathan Cote, a member of the commission, said the city is moving beyond just being a provider and distributor of electricity.
“There’s a lot of really important and complex issues that we are dealing with,” he said of initiatives like the fibre network and district energy.
The City of New Westminster, which began generating electricity for streetlights in 1891, runs the oldest continuously-operating electrical utility in British Columbia, according to the city’s website, and distributes electricity to 31,000 residential customers and 2,650 commercial/business customers.
Harper said the commission wants to help citizens understand what the utility does – aside from sending out electrical bills – and the benefits it offers to the city.
“I think changing the terms of reference of the electric utility commission to just the utility commission is a great idea,” said Coun. Chuck Puchmayr. “It doesn’t change a lot with regards to wording but it encompasses all those other entities into the commission.”