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Alberta utility bills expected to remain high throughout 2023

Click to play video: 'Alberta power and gas bills expected to remain high all year'
Alberta power and gas bills expected to remain high all year
Albertans are noticing extremely high energy bills this year and one expert says the prices for power and gas are expected to last all year. Breanna Karstens-Smith reports. – Feb 1, 2022

Energy experts say Albertans can expect to receive high energy bills for the remainder of the year with commodities expected to near or reach record levels.

Ryleigh Bridges knows that first hand. She used to live in a two-storey house in Beaumont with a total of five people. Now she lives with just one other person but her bill hasn’t changed.

“It was about $400 a month for energy. And now we live in a two-storey condo and it’s $400 again. A little more than 400, actually,” Bridges told Global News.

Joel MacDonald founded energyrates.ca where consumers can compare prices.

He says a few factors are driving prices up, including market factors and historic demand.

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Many consumers are frustrated by fees which can, in some cases, double what they owe on their bill, but MacDonald says that isn’t actually what is driving up bills themselves.

“Those transmission and distribution charges are regulated, they’re set by the Alberta Utility Commission, so there’s nothing you can do about it. But those don’t actually change that much on a year-to-year basis,” explained MacDonald.

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As climate change leads to more weather extremes, such as more bitterly cold days during the winter and an increase of sweltering days during the summer, MacDonald says the pattern of getting a break on bills in the summer might be in the past.

“You’re almost going to start going into two high periods of demand and high electricity cost: one in the winter with cold snaps and a second one in the summer whenever we get a heat wave,” said MacDonald.

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MacDonald added that, with future markets for both electricity and natural gas listing very high, rates could remain high through the first quarter of 2023.

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On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney addressed the spike.

“There has been a significant increase,” he said.

“We’re watching that very closely. And if these prices go significantly higher, we are prepared to to provide some support, as has happened in Alberta in the past.”

MacDonald suggests locking in a fixed rate and shopping around for the best price.

Bridges and her family have cut back on meat and travel in an attempt to save money in case their bills do continue to increase.

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