Stranglehold

Stranglehold Open letter to Ray Wells, vice-chairman, Yukon Chamber of Commerce: I listened to your complaints to Premier Dennis Fentie about Yukon commercial customers subsidizing residential electrical rates. Do not all business owners and their emplo

Open letter to Ray Wells, vice-chairman, Yukon Chamber of Commerce:

I listened to your complaints to Premier Dennis Fentie about Yukon commercial customers subsidizing residential electrical rates.

Do not all business owners and their employees live in some type of residence using electricity?

Here’s what I have to say about your comments.

First, we certainly consider this a conflict for the chambers, as certain members of your executive are part of the utilities involved in setting cost of service.

Yukon Electrical just raised our power rates 10.53 per cent for the past two years, including commercial rates É the businesses you represent.

Do you not think this might impact local businesses in competition with the Outside? I don’t hear the chamber complaining to the media about this.

Second, the company for which you were a corporate head for many years, Northwestel Inc., also jeopardizes small businesses in the Yukon by limiting price competition in its operating area Ð not only for telephones, but for the internet, cellphones and now cable television.

By charging exorbitant wholesale prices to access infrastructure, which has been highly subsidized by taxpayers and ratepayers, they throttle bandwidth and access costs so no one can compete with them, nor enter the market.

As such, they have run out all the independent internet competitors in the Yukon.

And when it comes to wireless, i.e. cellphones, is it Northwestel or Bell? Those are our only options.

And how will cable offer price competition for internet service when the same company owns it all?

When such monopoly restrictions take place in a market, this hurts the economies of the areas served. Not only for those who wish to compete with this company, but for all small businesses.

Telecommunications costs, like energy costs, are one of the major basic costs affecting businesses’ bottom lines in today’s world.

When you and the chamber publicly request Northwestel to relax the nooses it set in every sector of the telecommunications industry (including all the aforementioned as well as web processing, products and services), all of which are strangling local businesses, then the public might listen to the chamber’s rant about electrical rate design.

Last, but not least, why didn’t you do something to ensure affordable electrical rates into the future when you were chair of the Yukon Energy and Yukon Development Corporations?

Roger Rondeau, president

Utilities Consumers’ Group

Whitehorse