Power bill mess

Some Albertans got a nasty shock recently when their August power bills arrived. What’s going on?

What’s going on has little or nothing to do with actual electricity consumption. And it mainly affects power customers on the regulated rate option (RRO). Those with fixed-rate power plans aren’t feeling the sting, according to reports.

This hardly seems fair, but it’s apparently how the system works. Until somebody comes up with a better idea.

Power prices actually went up a lot back in February of this year, but the province temporarily capped them, so bills stayed artificially low. But those extra costs were only deferred. Now, according to Joel MacDonald – quoted in a CBC story – regulated rate customers are stuck paying back the $200 million deferral. The more people who switch to a fixed or floating rate, the more the poor RRO customers have to bear.

The CBC story says 35 per cent of Alberta households are on the RRO. According to University of Calgary professor Blake Schaffer, these are made up of “inattentive Albertans,” and those with low credit who don’t qualify for the cheaper fixed rate.” And they are the ones being punished under the current system.

MacDonald anticipates a “mass exodus” from the RRO under the circumstances. If so, the higher the bills for the remaining ones, he figures.

Something is very wrong with this picture.

Share this post

Post Comment