Federal carbon tax cost SaskPower customers $83M in 2019-20, says annual report

Click to play video: 'Too early to tell impact of COVID-19 on SaskPower’s bottom line'
Too early to tell impact of COVID-19 on SaskPower’s bottom line
WATCH: While SaskPower's books are in the black, sales are dropping. Officials say the COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact, but as Allison Bamford reports, it's still too early to tell how it's going to play out over the course of the year. – Jul 6, 2020

SaskPower collected $83 million from the implementation of the federal carbon tax, which helped drive up revenues for 2019-20.

The carbon tax, which went into effect April 1 of last year, raked in $49 million for 2019 and another $34 million in 2020 from customers.

The money is being set aside and will be used to fund the federal carbon tax payments.

Read more: Feds, farmers, remain far apart over impact of carbon tax on grain growers

The effect of the carbon tax on Saskatchewan was revealed in SaskPower’s 2019-20 annual report, which was tabled in the legislative assembly on Monday.

In the report, SaskPower reported a net income of $205 million — $8 million more than last year. The increase is primarily due to the higher fuel costs and capital-related expenses.

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While revenue was up, so were expenses — $38 million more was spent compared to the year before.

Part of this is because of the carbon tax. The company says it spent $53 million in relation to the tax.

SaskPower managing effects of coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic arrived late in the fiscal year, which ended on March 31, weeks after the province declared a state of emergency.

While SaskPower experienced a 2.1 per cent decline in sales in 2019-2020, the crown’s officials said Monday that they did not expect that trend to continue.

But between this April and June, sales were down an estimated 10 per cent year-over-year, SaskPower’s chief financial officer Troy King told reporters.

“We continue to monitor that and see how quickly the economy recovers,” King said.

The company’s annual report notes the “full financial impact of COVID-19 on SaskPower’s operations and Saskatchewan’s economy is not something we can yet accurately determine.

“We are anticipating an overall decline in the demand for electricity, which will have a negative impact on our revenue.”

The company transitioned 2,300 staff to work from home, or had them dispatched from home. Additionally, SaskPower waived interest on outstanding bills for six months.

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Read more: Saskatchewan Crown corporations plan for employees to return to office

SaskPower says it’s planning to manage the economic challenges of the carbon tax and the pandemic for 2020-21.

By doing this, SaskPower will continue to add utility-scale natural gas, wind, solar and biomass generation, as the province aims to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

As for the coronavirus, the company says it has increased the level of cash on hand to mitigate its liquidity risk.

“Solid fiscal performance over the past 12 months, positions us well to continue to deliver on customer expectations while also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic uncertainty,” read the annual report.

According to the annual report, SaskPower reported $8.3 billion in debt, up $200 million from the prior year.

While power rates have held stead y in the province in recent years, officials said Monday that an increase is not off the table.

Click to play video: 'Farmers frustrated with federal decision to move forward with carbon tax increase amid pandemic'
Farmers frustrated with federal decision to move forward with carbon tax increase amid pandemic

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