Please vote for increasing Idaho Power’s franchise fee from 1 percent to 3 percent of gross revenues in the Hailey special election on May 21.

Hailey taxpayers, including electric power consumers, should support Idaho Power’s paying a fair share of the costs of maintaining Hailey’s rights of way.

The ballot measure proposes to increase the rent that Idaho Power pays to the city of Hailey for unfettered access to the public’s rights of way. The fee would increase from 1 percent of the company’s gross revenues to 3 percent.

It is time to decrease the subsidy that Hailey taxpayers currently provide Idaho Power. A 1 percent franchise fee is far below fair-market value for the real estate rights the city gives to Idaho Power. Rights of way are the most valuable real estate in Hailey, and they are expensive to manage and operate. Idaho Power should pay the city rents comparable to those it pays private landlords for retail and office space.

Utility occupancy of rights of way is surprisingly expensive to the taxpaying public. Every utility pole statistically increases the danger to vehicles and pedestrians from collisions and fallen wires. Every road trench shortens the life of the road surface. Patches never restore the full integrity of the road, and the taxpayer picks up the bill for early road repairs.

Rights of way are public property, contributed in trust to the city by the adjoining property owners. This important economic asset is not a free good, available to all without cost. Sound public policy requires Idaho Power, like all other rights of way users, to internalize the costs of its use of rights of way. Electricity prices should reflect Idaho Power’s true costs so electric consumers can make informed choices between Idaho Power electricity and alternative energy sources.

End the rent subsidies to Idaho Power. Vote for the franchise fee increase on May 21.

Nicholas Miller, Hailey

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