Alberta government tables bill to support utility providers as customers defer payments

Alberta's government has tabled a bill that aims to support utility companies as they allow customers to defer payments through COVID-19. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

The United Conservative Party tabled a bill in the Alberta legislature Wednesday, meant to support electricity and natural gas providers in the province through COVID-19 utility payment deferrals.

It’s meant to supplement energy providers after Albertans were given the option to defer payments on March 18, for up to 90 days.

“Bill 14 will ensure utility service providers can maintain access to the cash-flow they require, in order to continue providing Albertans with this essential service,” Dale Nally, the Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity, said Wednesday.

Bill 14 also contains provisions that explicitly prohibit electricity and gas service providers from disconnecting customers during the time covered by the deferral program, the province said.

In total, it’s estimated that deferred payments for residential and business customers across the province will reach about $337 million. Up to $119 million of that has been approved to come from Alberta’s Balancing Pool and a further $104 million will be provided by the government.

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The loans will be recovered from the companies over a 12-month period, as Albertans repay their referrals to the companies.

Bill 14 also lays out repayment criteria for the individuals who have deferred payments. Repayment will occur through equal, monthly instalments, starting when the program ends on June 18. Customers can also arrange their own payment plans directly with their utility providers.

Customers will have until June 18, 2021, to complete their repayments.

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