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, and waste collection services. 

Red Deer’s cart program includes every other week on alternating weeks pick-up of Blue (recycling) and Black Carts (garbage) and weekly pick-up of Green Carts (organics) from early-April to mid-November and every other week on the same week as Blue Carts from mid-November to early-April. For further information visit our Garbage, Recycling & Organics section.

How does The City determine utility rates?

As part of the operating budget, City Council approved the 2021 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.

Why is Wastewater based on 90% of water usage, even in the summer months?

The City has estimated that the amount of wastewater throughout the year produced by each customer is approximately 90% of their water usage. Over the course of a typical year, the total volume of wastewater treated from city customers is approximately the same as the volume of water distributed to city customers. Even though some water is used for irrigation during the summer months and doesn’t directly enter the wastewater system, some groundwater and surface water does enter the wastewater system, particularly during and following heavy rains, which has to be treated at the Wastewater Treatment facility; which is why The City has estimated the Wastewater consumption charge.

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 2021 rates, household that uses 17 m3 will see an increase of 0.5 per cent.

Graph showing average monthly bill for small, average and large residential water users

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?

City Council approved the following utility rates changes for 2021. For residential customers, the average household (based on 17 m3 usage) will see a modest increase of approximately $0.53 per month, or about 0.5 per cent, on their monthly utility bill.

Residential fees

  March 2019 March 2020 February 2021
Variable ($/m3) $1.55 $1.59 $1.60
Fixed Monthly Fee (16 mm meter)  $15.95  $16.25 $16.25
Typical monthly fee, based on 17 m3 usage $42.30  $43.28 $43.45
Increase over prior year for typical usage  1.83%  2.3% 0.39%
Variable ($/m3 $1.55  $1.59 $1.60
Fixed Monthly Fee  $18.70 $19.15 $19.25
Typical monthly fee, based on 15.3 m3 usage*  $42.42  $43.48 $43.73
Increase over prior year for typical usage  2.19%  2.5% 0.57%
Garbage and Recycling (effective May 6, 2019)
Monthly residential waste collection fee (Green, Blue & Medium Black Carts pick up)  $22.25 (+2.44%)  $22.81 (+2.5%) $22.92 (+0.48%)
Multi-family monthly recycling fee (Garbage is collected in a bin)  $4.34 (+2.36%)  $4.45 (+2.5%) $4.47 (+0.45%)
Waste Management Facility Fees ($/tonne)    
Landfill waste  $75.00 (+2.7%)  $76.50 (+2.0%) $77.00 (+0.65%)
Divertible waste  $63.50 (+2.4%)  $64.75 (+2.0%) $65.50 (+1.15%)
Special waste  $95.00 (+2.2%)  $96.50 (+1.6%) $97.00 (+0.52%)
Regional Customers ($/m3)  
Red Deer County  $1.52
$1.56 (+2.6%) $1.57 (+0.64%)
North Commission $1.50 (+2.0%) $1.54 (+2.7%) $1.55 (+0.65%)
South Commission $1.12 (+2.8%) $1.15 (+2.7%) $1.16 (+0.86%)
North Commission $1.12 (+2.8%) $1.15 (+2.7%) $1.16 (+0.86%)
Sylvan Lake Regional Wastewater Commission (service commenced mid 2019) N/A $1.15 $1.16 (+0.86%)

 Wastewater is based on 90% of water usage

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

If you have specific questions about your utility bill, please see our Billing Concerns web page for more details.