Government placing electricity price cap to protect consumers

Above: Premier Notley and Energy Minister McCuaig-Boyd join an Edmonton family to announce stable electricity prices Tuesday. – GOA photo

by Morinville News Staff

The Government of Alberta says it is protecting families, farms and small businesses with a ceiling on electricity prices as the province makes necessary reforms to the electricity system.

Regulated electricity rates have been volatile, increasing by as much as 65 per cent (or 4.66 cents per kilowatt hour) in a single month, the government says, citing April of 2011 as a peak high and June 2014 as a peak low (4.14 cents per kilowatt hour drop).

The government plans to have the rate ceiling implemented by next June. At that time, the government says Albertans will pay no more than 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour. The ceiling will remain in effect for four years.

“Previous Alberta governments experimented with a risky and volatile form of electricity deregulation,” Premier Notley said in a release. “This experiment left families, businesses and our economy at the mercy of sudden price spikes and uncertainty like we’ve seen in the past and need to protect against in the future.”

The government says during the four years the rate ceiling is in effect, consumers on the Regulated Rate Option (RRO) will pay the lower of the market rate or the government’s ceiling rate and will be automatically applied to consumers bills on the regulated rate.

The Minister of Energy will start consulting in December, reaching out to distributors, RRO providers, retailers, and consumers.

Notley went on to say the rate ceiling is part of other electricity reforms to be announced later this week, including measures the government says will “enhance Alberta’s market framework to create the conditions for private investment affordability, reliability and price stability.”

Wildrose Shadow Electricity & Renewables Minister Don MacIntyre was not impressed with the NDP government’s changes to Alberta’s electricity system.

“Today, the NDP government has admitted their policy changes mean Albertans should expect nearly a doubling of current electricity costs,” Macintyre said in a released statement, noting the regulated rate option sits at 3.8 cents per kilowatt-hour, less than half the amount in the government’s cap announcement.

“Their shutdown of coal, tax increases on power companies and ongoing legal battles have caused investor confidence in our province to plummet and will lead to further volatility caused by the NDP and increased costs for our power system.”

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