SaskPower applies for rate increase to fund electrical system improvements

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With $10 billion in electrical system upgrades planned over the next decade, SaskPower has applied to the Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel for a $4 to $6 per month average increase in residential power bills.

SaskPower announced on Tuesday they had submitted an application to the Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel for a 4.9 per cent rate increase, effective Jan. 1, 2013. SaskPower says the $48 to $72 per year increase for residential customers is required to fund investments in the province’s electrical system to keep up with Saskatchewan's growing economy and maintain electrical reliability.

“This rate increase is needed to fund investments into the province’s electrical system to ensure our customers continue to benefit from a safe, reliable and sustainable power supply,” SaskPower President and CEO Robert Watson stated in a press release. “Demand for power is expected to grow by 2.9 per cent per year from 2011-2021, and we need to be ready for that growth.”

During the next decade, SaskPower anticipates they will spend $10 billion on the province’s electrical system, plus another $5 billion on commitments to the company’s Power Purchase Agreements. Funding is needed in part for the ongoing replacement and refurbishment of the electrical system, while other funds would support the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

SaskPower highlights a pair of major projects account for a majority of their capital expenses in 2013: the carbon capture and storage project at Boundary Dam Power Station and the 200 megawatt expansion of Queen Elizabeth Power Station.

To help offset the impact of rate increases, SaskPower will continue to help customers reduce their electrical use, decrease their power bills, and help protect the environment through a variety of energy efficiency and conservation programs. Visit saskpower.com/save_power for more information.

The opposition Saskatchewan NDP note SaskPower's five per cent rate increase request would not have been necessary if the SaskParty government hadn’t taken a last-minute, emergency cash grab from the Crown. The higher rates in 2013 would generate $90.8 million, not quite enough to offset the provincial government's use of $120 million from SaskPower bank accounts last year.

“The SaskParty government should be allowing SaskPower to grow and invest in energy security for the province,” stated Trent Wotherspoon, NDP critic for SaskPower. “Instead, SaskPower is forced to turn to ratepayers’ wallets.”

Wotherspoon said that these tactics simply amount to a “back door tax.”

“Everyday people need their government to make the monthly bills just a little bit easier instead of adding to people’s expenses,” said Wotherspoon.

.For more information about SaskPower’s rate application, visit saskpower.com/rates

Organizations: SaskPower, Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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