Sask. power rates to increase in March

The 3.5 percent rate hike will take effect March 1

Saskatchewan residents will soon see a 3.5 percent increase in their monthly power bills.

Last week, the Saskatchewan government accepted a recommendation from the Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel suggesting power rates should be increased.

SaskPower, a provincial crown corporation, had initially requested a five percent increase.

The 3.5 percent rate hike approved by the province will take effect March 1 and will represent an increase of approximately $4 per month on the average residential power bill.

Since early 2007, the province has approved a total of 10 rate increases at SaskPower, totaling nearly 45 percent.

Cumulatively, a Saskatchewan consumer who paid $200 a month for power Jan. 1, 2007, will now be paying nearly $310 a month effective March 1, based on similar power consumption.

“Every year, SaskPower is keeping up with new records of power consumption, while working to keep power rates as low as possible,” said Dustin Duncan, the minister responsible for SaskPower.

“They face an important challenge to maintain and grow our power grid. With their revised fiscal forecasts during the rate review period, government agrees with the rate review panel that SaskPower can meet this challenge in 2018 with a (3.5 percent) increase.

“We will continue to challenge SaskPower, and all government agencies, to do more with less, and without compromising service to Saskatchewan homes and businesses.”

In a news release, SaskPower said revenue generated by the rate increase would be invested in “major maintenance and growth projects” aimed at reducing the “number and duration of power outages” and modernizing the provincial power grid.

Network improvements will help SaskPower reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, the utility company said.

“The power has to be on when and where we need it,” said SaskPower president Mike Marsh.

“SaskPower also has to be financially responsible with its operations. That’s why we’ve optimized our processes, reduced administrative costs and we plan to reduce this spending by an additional $142 million in the next three years using various restraint measures.”

“This 3.5 percent will allow us to continue investing in the grid and we will investigate additional ways to save money to compensate for this lower-than-planned increase.”

In the past five years, SaskPower has invested more than $6 billion in capital projects and power purchase agreements.

Capital spending on the province’s electricity system was listed at $886 million in 2016-17 with an additional $1.12 billion budgeted in 2017-18.

brian.cross@producer.com

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