Yukoners will have to budget an extra $20.48 for electricity every month starting in January when the increase will begin showing up on monthly bills.
In a Dec. 4 statement, Yukon Energy said rates throughout the territory will increase effective Dec. 1.
A permanent increase will see bills rise by 4.7 per cent in addition to a temporary 7.1 per cent increase that will be in place until Nov. 30, 2021 to account for the lengthy 29-month period it took for the general rate application to get through the approval process.
That translates into an average permanent increase of $7.90 each month on top of the average temporary charge of $12.58 per month for residential customers. The average commercial customer will see a $13.77 increase for the permanent charge and $21.92 for temporary charge.
The increases will be first seen on customers’ bills in January, though those on ATCO Electric Yukon’s (which distributes electricity) budget payment plan (where customers pay an equal amount each month with a credit or amount owing adjustment in the final month) can contact ATCO to have their bills changed to reflect the increase.
Yukon Energy president Andrew Hall said in a Dec. 5 interview the permanent increase comes five years after the last such increase was applied to bills and reflects inflation, while the temporary increase comes to recover what it lost during the lengthy review.
Typically a rate review with the Yukon Utilities Board would take about a year. In this case, Hall explained there was a significant delay due to a legal dispute between the board and Yukon Energy over recovery policies. The courts did eventually rule in Yukon Energy’s favour, but the board was waiting for the matter to be settled.
The board also added additional steps during the review process, calling for more intervener input, which also took more time, Hall explained.
He went on to acknowledge, “No one ever likes a rate increase,” but also emphasized the increase is needed to account for inflation.
He also emphasized that the Yukon rates are considerably lower than in the other two territories and are comparable with other regions of the country considering the territory’s size and population.
A chart supplied by Yukon Energy shows a residential bill totalling $177.59 (inclusive of the new rates) would be $585.60 in Iqaluit and $323.67 in Yellowknife. Elsewhere that same bill would be $157.42 in Calgary, $116.20 in Vancouver, $72.99 in Montreal, and $166.86 in Halifax.
Questioned whether an annual increase has ever been pondered to avoid such a large increase after years without permanent changes, Hall said there are some models that could be followed on that and it may be something the Yukon government considers in looking at rates in the future.
He did note, however, that that type of model does create some challenges, particularly in years where major capital investments have to be made, and those would also have to be considered.
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