New options to support local with internet, gas, and energy providers

·2 min read

The village of Stirling has made a unique venture into utility marketing with the creation of their new municipal corporation, Ridge Utilities, which went live on October 7th. Ridge Utilities is a marketing arm for Utility Network, an energy gas and internet retailer in Alberta. Stirling Mayor, Trevor Lewis, brought the idea to council a year ago as a means to accomplish the town’s goal to diversify revenue. Ridge Utilities allows the municipality to not rely as heavily on provincial government finances and the municipal tax base, in a low-risk/low-capital investment. It also is an opportunity to access competitive utility pricing for their residents and other customers while simultaneously investing money back into local community initiatives.

At a time when most municipalities are facing uncertainty from government funding, Stirling hopes to provide a new granting pool with revenue from Ridge Utilities to create a Community Investment Fund. The idea is that a percentage of Ridge Utilities revenue will be saved and available for municipalities to apply for as they work on local initiatives. Municipalities will have access to the funds based on how many Ridge Utility customers are in their area. Other requirements to access funding have not been decided by the board of directors yet but will be refined in policies over the next year or more. Council hopes that they will spend the first year analyzing what their revenue looks like and saving up a meaningful pool in their Community Investment Fund before giving back to the region in the coming years.

Over the last ten years other communities have created similar initiatives, such as Olds who have made more than a million dollars in revenue for their community. So far Ridge Utilities has 8 new customers signed up and 11 still in the processing stages that will launch this month. The new customers are from Stirling and Warner county, but the town hopes to continue to see new customers from a broader geographic range so they can use the revenue to benefit many of their municipal partners.

If you are interested in switching providers you can buy local, even with your gas. In fact Ridge Utilities also has options for solar microgenerators to maximize their credits and for persons wanting to procure energy from sustainable sources. CAO Donselaar suggests speaking with your service provider to see if you have a locked-in contract. He says “ultimately the risk is only if you’re locked in a contract, so make sure you aren’t paying penalties, we don’t want ppl suffering financially to make the transition”. Utility network is a stable company that has been around for a long time, and customers switching over have saved money on administration fees alone.

Elizabeth Thompson-Christensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star