Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut March 29, 2018 - 3:15 pm

Nunavut electricity rates unlikely to increase this Sunday

QEC had requested sweeping rate changes as of April 1

JIM BELL
Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone said March 20 that the Qulliq Energy Corp.'s proposed rate changes could hurt businesses in Iqaluit by imposing a 12 per cent rate hike this year and an 8.6 per cent hike next year. But so far, the Government of Nunavut has taken no public position on the QEC's proposal for uniform rates across the territory and has made no decision on the QEC's five-month-old general rate application, which was submitted back in October 2017. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone said March 20 that the Qulliq Energy Corp.'s proposed rate changes could hurt businesses in Iqaluit by imposing a 12 per cent rate hike this year and an 8.6 per cent hike next year. But so far, the Government of Nunavut has taken no public position on the QEC's proposal for uniform rates across the territory and has made no decision on the QEC's five-month-old general rate application, which was submitted back in October 2017. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)

It appears unlikely that the electrical power rate increases the Qulliq Energy Corp. filed for this past October will kick in this weekend.

And it also looks as if the Government of Nunavut still isn’t ready to take a public position on the sweeping changes the QEC proposed, which the corporation wanted to start imposing this Sunday, April 1.

The power utility’s general rate application, filed this past Oct. 27, three days before the Oct. 30 Nunavut election, proposed two things: a 7.6 per cent across-the-board increase in all rates over two years, and the start of a movement towards uniform rates for all communities.

But as of today, the GN, which had expected to receive a review report on March 26 from the Utility Rates Review Commission, had not announced how it plans to direct the power corporation.

This past March 20, Adam Arreak Lightstone, the MLA for Iqaluit-Manirajak, said in a member’s statement that the QEC’s proposals, if approved by the GN, could hurt businesses in Iqaluit and produce “a potentially negative impact” on Iqaluit’s economy.

That’s because the combined effect of the QEC’s two-pronged plan would increase power rates in Iqaluit by 12 per cent this year and 8.6 per cent next year.

“We need to keep in mind that many businesses operate very close to the margin. In some cases, if they need to find extra money to pay the monthly power bill, they may have to look at laying off employees. That doesn’t help anyone,” Lightstone said.

He also criticized the GN for having little to say on the issue.

“There has been a lack of clarity about where we are at today in terms of the regulatory review of the current general rate application,” Lightstone said.

“There’s also a lack of clarity about what position the new government has on the basic question of whether or not it supports the main elements of the GRA, especially the proposed new territorial rate structure,” he said.

Earlier in the month, Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes tried to ask Premier Paul Quassa if his government had taken a position on the idea of uniform Nunavut-wide power rates, which would increase rates in smaller communities and hike rates in larger ones.

But Quassa did not answer the question.

Later, on March 20, Lightstone asked Jeannie Ehaloak, the minister responsible for the power corporation, if power rates will increase on April 1, as QEC had requested.

“No, the power rates will not go up on April 1, 2018,” Ehaloak said.

Also on March 20, Hickes asked more questions about how the GN will handle the QEC’s rate application and why the GN can’t say anything about them yet.

“The reason the rates were not [increased] April 1 is the URRC has not submitted their report to myself as minister of the QEC for that recommendation, so I can’t make that recommendation to cabinet until I get that report,” Ehaloak said.

She also said that until the Nunavut cabinet considers the URRC review report, she can’t answer any questions about the GN’s position on Nunavut power rates or even state when new rates will be announced.

“As I stated earlier, the document or the request has not come to me and I have not presented to cabinet for review, so we don’t actually know when the rates will increase or if there will even be a rate increase,” Ehaloak said.

The QEC’s last major rate increase, which flowed from a general rate application filed in the fall of 2013, also close to the election that year, was granted effective May 1, 2014.

This suggests that this time around, the Nunavut cabinet may wait until at least May 1 or later before figuring out what to do and then announcing its direction to the QEC.

The QEC’s current rate schedule is available here.

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