Business leaders called on Premier Dennis Fentie to improve commercial power rates on Tuesday.
Pricey commercial rates help keep residential power cheap, said Ray Wells, a vice-chair of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce. He made the complaint during a breakfast meeting with the chamber and Fentie.
There’s currently a “cross-subsidy” of 110 per cent and it could rise soon, if one proposal is adopted by the Yukon Utilities Board, said Wells.
“The recent filing has jumped up to 117 per cent,” he said. “Of course, this makes Yukon businesses less competitive compared to other jurisdictions.”
He asked Fentie to “undo the cross-subsidy and relieve some of the pressure on Yukon businesses.”
The current arrangement can’t be changed without the premier’s help, said Wells. That’s because, “there’s an order in council in place restricts that being changed until 2012,” he said.
He looked for reassurance Fentie would block the proposed commercial rate hike. He received words of encouragement, but no firm commitment.
“We’ll have to be very careful about how we address the energy issue. It’s one of the biggest challenges the Yukon faces,” said Fentie. “And the underpinning of that challenge is rates, and ensuring that the rates don’t put Yukon businesses at a disadvantage.
“That’s the best I can do for you, Ray.” (John Thompson)