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Hydro rate hikes could cost northern Manitoba big in the winter: Public Interest Law Centre

Hydro rate hikes could cost northern Manitoba big in the winter: Public Interest Law Centre
WATCH: Global's Shelden Rogers looks into the effects of Hydro's approved rate hike.

After the latest 3.36 per cent rate increase from Manitoba Hydro, the Public Interest Law Centre is raising concerns for people living in northern parts of the province.

Lawyer with the law centre, Katrine Dilay said people living in northern Manitoba could pay around $15 extra on their monthly bill once the cold weather arrives.

“The baseline would be $325 they would be paying in the winter months, that would go up to $338,” Dilay said.

The 3.36 per cent increase is much lower than Manitoba Hydro’s original proposal.

The Crown corporation is proposing a 7.9 per cent rate increase for the next five years.

READ MORE: Manitoba Hydro’s proposed 7.9 per cent increase denied, 3.36 per cent approved

“It imposes significant hardship on consumers, businesses, and especially those consumers who are more vulnerable, either they’re on a fixed income or have no choice but to use a higher amount of electricity,” Dilay said.

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Manitoba Hydro said the 7.9 per cent increase will help chip away at a $16 billion debt, and help pay for major projects like Bipole III, and the Keeyask generating station in northern Manitoba.

“Whether you have higher rate increases earlier, or a long, long period of lower increase, we are going to have rate increases to deal with these financial conditions,” President and CEO of Manitoba Hydro Kelvin Shepherd said.

Manitoba Hydro will be meeting with the Public Utilities Board in December to determine a more long term rate.

Dilay said her public interest members would like to see a full review supporting a 7.9 per cent rate hike.

“Let’s make sure that hydro really needs these rate increases, before believing their untested statements,” Dilay said.

Shepherd said if rates don’t increase over time, debt will increase. He would not comment on layoffs to Manitoba Hydro staff.