NDP takes aim at approval of SaskPower 8 per cent rate hike

REGINA - The NDP Opposition is condemning the provincial government’s decision to approve the Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel’s recommendation to increase SaskPower’s rates for the first time since 2018.

The Crown electrical utility’s rates will increase four per cent this fall, and another four per cent in 2023. According to a government news release issued Thursday, the new rates will result in an average increase of approximately $5 on residential customers’ bills starting on Sept. 1, 2022, and an additional $5 on April 1, 2023.

“The decision to increase rates is not taken lightly and came after a thorough review by the independent Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel,” Minister Responsible for SaskPower Don Morgan said in a news release. “World events have caused a significant rise in the price of natural gas, and with 42 per cent of Saskatchewan’s electricity coming from natural gas-fueled facilities, SaskPower requires additional revenue to maintain reliable operations.”

But NDP SaskPower critic Aleana Young says the rate hike is coming just as businesses and industries are struggling in an “affordability crisis.”

She called the announcement of an eight per cent increase in power bills on a summer day before the long weekend “a cowardly move” by the premier and his cabinet.

“Not to mention the Sask. Party plans to hike natural gas rates by 17% just days from now,” said Young in a news release issued Friday. “If Scott Moe thinks his choices — to not provide Saskatchewan families any affordability relief, to hike taxes and fees, then compound those costs with utility rate hikes — are defensible, he should have the courage to get out of his closed-door meetings and explain himself to the people of this province.”

The province noted natural gas is the largest generation source in SaskPower’s fleet. As federal regulations require the elimination of conventional coal generation in Canada by 2030, SaskPower’s reliance on natural gas generation is expected to grow. Fuel and Purchased Power expense increases are largely driven by increased natural gas prices, and SaskPower’s fuel and purchased power expense is expected to increase from $715 million in 2020-21 to $1.069 billion in 2023-24. This represents a 50 per cent increase in fuel and purchased power expense over three years.

“In the four years since our last increase SaskPower has worked to find internal efficiencies, but at this time we require additional funding to continue to provide reliable and sustainable power,” SaskPower president & CEO Rupen Pandya said in the release “We will continue to be transparent about our rate strategy and the need for regular, moderate increases.”


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