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SaskPower sees demand grow, mulling rate increase

SaskPower CEO Mike Marsh discusses the company's 2018 annual report. Adrian Raaber / Global News

Alongside Saskatchewan’s growing population is a growing demand for power. This year SaskPower saw a 5.4 per cent increase in demand, equivalent to powering an additional 150,000 homes.

This increased demand meant greater income for the Crown corporation in the 2017/18 fiscal year. SaskPower brought in $146 million in net income, up from $56 million last year. In addition to the demand increase, this extra income is attributed to low natural gas prices and rate increases.

Since July 2016, SaskPower has increased rates three times. They pitched five per cent increases for July 2016, January 2017 and March 2018. However, the Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel dropped the increases to 3.5 per cent for the most recent two.

READ MORE: SaskPower rate increasing 3.5%

SaskPower CEO Mike Marsh said they are in the process of determining rates for the next fiscal year, 2019/2020.

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“We’re in the process of looking at those numbers now. Indications are the increase will be moderate at the worst case, but we haven’t reached an actual number yet as to what that might look like,” he said.

A recommendation on a new power rate will be brought to SaskPower leadership in the late summer or early fall according to Marsh.

Other financial highlights for SaskPower include $996 million invested into the power grid through capital projects. This includes $231 million for a 200 kilometer transmission line from Swift Current to Moose Jaw and continued work on the Chinook Power Station near Swift Current.

The corporation’s debt ratio has dropped to 74.9 per cent, totaling $7.9 billion owed. This debt level is within SaskPower’s targeted range.

SaskPower also touted $115 million found in operational savings since 2015.

In addition to financial statements, SaskPower announced that they will no longer be pursuing carbon capture and storage (CCS) retrofits at Boundary Dam Units 4 and 5. However, a feasibility study is under way for CCS at the Shand Power Station near Estevan.

READ MORE: SaskPower not moving ahead with further carbon capture projects at Boundary Dam 4 and 5

For next year, SaskPower anticipates another increase in revenue, $177 million. Capital expenditures are expected to total $933 million as well.

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