The recent Swift Current Light & Power announcement about a rate increase has a few different components.

Breaking those down more should help with the 'why' as much as the 'what' is happening.

The brief of it is a four per cent increase across the board for residential and commercial customers. This change comes as Light & Power matches the same price hike being implemented by SaskPower to maintain parity with the crown corporation.

Mitch Minken, the general manager of infrastructure and operations for the City of Swift Current, presented the matter to city council on Monday. Since then, he has answered some questions to shed light to the subject.

"There's a few trends in the electrical world these days," began Minken. "One of them is certainly all the appliances and even your lighting are getting more and more energy efficient. People are actually using less electricity to accomplish their daily tasks, but that doesn't reduce the cost of maintaining and operating the electrical system."

This ongoing trend of reduced usage but increasing demand for more of the grid as new devices and growing communities get added to it has led SaskPower and other companies to offload the costs into the base rates.

"There's only two components of a residential electrical fee," explained Minken. "You have a base service charge that everybody pays every month, which pays for your meter, the administration side of the meter, and some of the base charges for maintaining the electrical system.

"Then you have an energy charge, which is the kilowatt hours used, which is the energy that's actually used by the things that use electricity in your home."

Residential customers can expect relatively flat increases in their bills. The four per cent is likely to equate to $6.16 more for apartments, $7.91 for average homes, and $9.51 more monthly for larger residences.

Things get more complicated for commercial customers. They also have a 'kVA' rate they pay on top of the first two components of the bill.

"That charge is there because those larger customers require more infrastructure to serve them," continued Minken. "That's a charge for that extra infrastructure used by those customers."

These changes should help not only to keep parity between Light & Power and SaskPower, but also to offset costs for expanding and maintaining the grid. In the future, as Swift Current continues to grow, these adjusted rules will enable them to continue to expand while usage drops per appliance.