ATCO Electric workers install powerlines in downtown Whitehorse. (Yukon News file)

ATCO Electric workers install powerlines in downtown Whitehorse. (Yukon News file)

Yukon government says it is weighing ways to cut Yukoners’ electricity bills

NDP has called for a rate review, which is one of four options the government has listed

The Yukon government says it is weighing options to cut electricity bills for Yukoners.

NDP MLA Emily Tredger told the House on April 4 it had been nearly a month since the NDP had asked the minister “to investigate the over-earnings made by ATCO Electric Yukon, while Yukoners struggled to pay their bills.”

Tredger asked the government to order a rate review for ATCO.

John Streicker, the minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, told reporters on April 4 the electricity rates have not actually increased over the last couple of years and Yukon maintains the lowest rates in the North.

“But I also know that right now there’s pressure on everybody, especially with the cost of fuel going up, and then other things as a result, so it’s important that we watch the rates,” he said.

Streicker said he and Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee met with the Yukon Chamber of Commerce on March 2, after the chamber had written a letter asking to talk about rates.

Since then, Streicker said he also met with ATCO Electric Yukon several times, mostly over the phone.

“Because of how well mining is doing and because of how much the territory has been growing, then the utilities, when their rates are set, they have a projection on what they anticipate for growth in the territory, and they are allowed to have a rate of return through their rate application,” he said.

“But because the territory has been doing very well, then their profits are higher, it’s correct.”

In 2016, the Yukon Utilities Board negotiated the utility company’s annual rates, based on operating costs and revenue, and settled on nine per cent as an acceptable rate of return on equity.

But due to a number of factors — including population growth — ATCO Electric Yukon’s profits have increased since then.

Streicker said four options are being considered to make rates more affordable for Yukoners. They include introducing a inflation relief rebate, having ATCO Electric Yukon themselves looking at direct ways they can “support a lower rate,” asking for a rate review by the utilities board, and having a negotiated rate settlement set out by the public and expedited by the utilities board.

“Those are all the ways in which we are looking at this,” Streicker said.

The government announced on March 22 that Yukoners will receive $50 off their electricity bills for the next three months, totalling a rebate of $150.

READ MORE: Government offers $50 off electricity bill for the next three months

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon told reporters the Liberal’s decisions around energy are causing increases to Yukoners’ power bills, particularly the renting of diesel generators.

“What the minister said today, though, was a bit odd,” Dixon said about the fourth option. “We’ve never heard of a closed door or backroom negotiation around a settlement with the utility. The whole point of the Public Utilities Act is to have those conversations go through a quasi-judicial process to review the facts and ultimately determine an appropriate rate.”

NDP leader Kate White said ATCO Electric Yukon has admitted they are over-earning, and “the only way to do this is a rate review.”

“What we’re suggesting is, under section 17 of the Public Utilities Act, the government can direct a rate review of ATCO because that’s one way to have it recalculated,” White said.

“Doing $150 of refunds on peoples’ power bills is great for people who have power bills, but it doesn’t affect the rest of the population. It doesn’t include people who have rents that include everything, it doesn’t affect multi-member households in the same way, and so what we’re saying is ‘Government, use your power’.”

READ MORE: NDP calls for review for ATCO Electric Yukon electricity rates

In an email statement on April 6, Jay Massie, the vice-president of northern development and Indigenous relations, said ATCO Electric Yukon is currently analyzing options and will be looking to report back to the minister.

— With files from Haley Ritchie

Contact Dana Hatherly at