It could cost ratepayers an extra $5 a month, to keep the lights on if the Energy and Utilities Board approves NB Power’s latest rate application.
The utility says it needs the cash to help manage and reduce costs.
“What we have also made in our budget is provisions to increase our efficiency programs and people have access to those program rebates and this will help in some cases reduce their power consumption by 5 to 7 per cent,” explains NB Power CEO Gaëtan Thomas.
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The power utility has filed a request with the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board looking to introduce an average rate hike of 2.5 per cent, with a 2.9 per cent increase for residential customers.
“NB Power recognizes the responsibility it has to New Brunswickers to balance the health and sustainability of the utility with the impact of higher rates on its customers,” said Lori Clark, senior vice-president of operations for NB Power.
The application has caught the eye of watchdog Heather Black, the province’s public intervenor for the energy sector.
“That’s what we’re in for the higher rate trajectory over the long term, certainly it’s a challenge for folks to afford it especially this time of the year when it’s so cold,” said Black.
Even with the rate increase, the utility says it will still have the lowest prices in all of Atlantic Canada.
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The utility is working towards cutting $40 million from its budget over the next four years while taking a second look at the controversial smart meter program.
“We now have found, you know, some quantifiable savings for our customers, such as conservation voltage reductions and the fact that we’ll be able to restore power faster,” adds Thomas.
The Energy and Utilities board is studying the application and in May will hold a hearing. It’ll be up to NB Power to prove why the increase is needed while breaking down how last year’s two per cent increase was spent.
“That’s certainly what the board will be looking at to make sure that there’s a good balance between what is necessary for the utility to keep functioning and keep providing safe and reliable service and what is fair to ratepayers,” Black said.