SaskEnergy is linking a very cold winter, especially February, to what they describe as a strong fiscal year in their annual report.
The Crown corporation said February was 40 per cent colder than normal, and a natural gas usage record of 1.5 petajoules was tied on Feb. 8. The original record was set in December 2017.
That much usage played a significant role in SaskEnergy paying a $60 million dividend to the province, up from $39 million the prior year, according to the company.
“This past winter reminded us how much we depend on the safety and reliability of SaskEnergy’s natural gas system and the importance of continued infrastructure investment,” Minister Responsible for SaskEnergy Bronwyn Eyre said.
Natural gas prices continue to be low, which means commodity rates are not expected to increase for at least the next two years. However, with the federal carbon tax in place it is anticipated bills will go up $54 annually for the average household.
“We actually did see the commodity rate decrease by $94 per average residential customer. That’s been eclipsed by the carbon tax,” Eyre said.
Starting on Aug. 1, SaskEnergy customers with an older furnace will be able to access an up to $650 rebate to help cover a replacement for a high-efficiency model. The replacement furnace must be a 97 per cent efficiency model to qualify.
“With the furnace rebate, 53 per cent of furnaces in Saskatchewan are still non-efficiency. So this makes sense, SaskEnergy has done work around asking customers what they were seeking in terms of this kind of thing and this is what came back from customers,” Eyre said.
The rebate program runs until November, and SaskEnergy will evaluate how customers respond to the rebate.
SaskEnergy CEO Ken From said the rebate is expected to cover about 10 per cent of a furnace cost. They anticipate around 1,500 customers will use the rebate, costing $975,000.
“If you have a furnace with a 50 per cent efficiency, which would be one of the old ones that are still running, and you go to 97 per cent you’re almost cutting in half the amount of gas you’re using to heat your home,” From explained.
“So instead of having half that go up the chimney, it can stay there and you will see a savings because only needing to buy half of the commodity.”
SaskEnergy boasts $166 million in net income for the 2018-19 fiscal year.