Understanding Utility Rates

We know your utility bill can be a bit confusing, so we’ve put together this FAQ to answer some questions you may have.

What’s included in your City utility bill?

Your City of Red Deer utility bill includes fees for water, wastewater, garbage, yard waste and recycling collection.

How does The City determine utility rates?

As part of the operating budget, City Council approved the 2017 budget for utilities. That budget determines the amount of revenue The City must recover through utility rates. From there, The City forecasts the number of customers to be served, the amount of commodity to be used, and the demand placed on the system from small and large customers.

There are two components to utility rates – a fixed monthly charge and a usage charge. The fixed charge recognizes that much of the cost of operating and maintaining the utility infrastructure isn’t dependent on how much of the commodity is used. The fixed charge considers the potential demand that a customer places on the system; so large customers typically pay a higher fixed charge than small customers do.

The usage charge recognizes that some costs are related to consumption and encourages consumers to use less. Even though only a small portion of utility operating costs are related to usage in any particular year, overall reduction in use will reduce system demand and allow future capacity increases to be deferred. In the long term, this reduces the cost to operate the utility.

For water and residential wastewater customers, The City has been increasing the proportion of revenue recovered from usage rates to encourage conservation. A smaller fixed charge will continue to apply so that everyone pays a fair share of the cost to operate the utilities.

How are utility charges used?

Revenue generated by utility rates is used to cover the cost of providing a number of services for City and regional customers, including:

  • Treatment and distribution of safe, reliable water for households, businesses, and fire protection;
  • Collection and treatment of wastewater from households and businesses to protect the health of our citizens, the river habitat, and downstream users; and,
  • Collection and disposal of solid wastes in an environmentally responsible manner, with emphasis on recycling and reuse.
Why are utility rates changing?

Utility rates are re-evaluated each year and rates are adjusted to generate sufficient revenue to meet budget needs. Budget changes are affected by inflation, growth, and the services provided. In recent years, significant capital upgrades were required for the water and wastewater treatment plants to meet increasing City and regional demands as well as more stringent environmental standards.

Is there a way I can have more control over my utility bill?

Yes, you can control the variable portion of your utility bill by conserving water. As the graph below outlines, since 2012 The City has been transitioning more of the proportion of the utility rate from fixed to variable, which gives residents more control over their bill. Based on the 2017 rates, household that uses 5 m3 will see a decrease of 3.7% this year, while a household that uses 17 m3 of water will see an increase of 0.3%.

Utility rates table

Try these tips for conserving water:

  • Upgrade older toilets with water efficient models
  • Collect rain water to water your garden
  • When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load
  • When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water

For more water conservation tips, please visit www.reddeer.ca/water

What are this year’s utility rates?

On February 21, 2017, Council approved the following utility rates changes. For residential customers, the average household (based on 17 m3 usage) will see a modest increase of approximately $1.07 per month, or about 1.1%, on their monthly utility bill.

For non-residential fees, please see the Utility Bylaw.

Why is the garbage collection fee increasing even though the unit limit decreased from five to three?

There are fixed costs associated with garbage pickup, including trucks, fuel and staff, that are required regardless of the unit limit. In addition, before the unit limit was introduced, the majority of households in Red Deer were already well under the limit of five (the average was 1.8 units per household); therefore there wasn’t a significant change in the resources needed for garbage collection.

Meter Reading

ENMAX will be reading your external meter on The City's behalf. If for some reason ENMAX cannot read your meter, you may be asked to phone in your reading. If no reading can be obtained, we will estimate your bill. 

Water Consumption Concerns

If your water consumption seems too high:

  1. Review the utilities detail section of your bill and ensure the correct services are listed. Report any errors to the Utility Billing Service Centre.
  2. Watch for leaky faucets and running toilets. Faulty plumbing will impact your utility bill.  Check to ensure that the inside water meter reading matches the outside remote device.  Your water meter is located on the inside of the property and generally has a remote device on the exterior of the building. Both devices read like an odometer on a car, however, the number of digits may be different between the devices.  If the number on the remote device readout differs from the reading on the water meter inside, please report the difference immediately using our online form at www.reddeer.ca/watermeter.  We will require all digits and decimal places from both devices, your account number, name, phone number, and address.