Government of Nunavut to forgive City of Iqaluit for $420K in electrical late fees
“I know that this is out of the ordinary, dealing with something that’s 17 years old”
The City of Iqaluit will have almost $420,000 worth of Qulliq Energy Corp. late fees forgiven after Nunavut MLAs approved a deal between the two parties on Sept. 28.
In exchange, the city has agreed to pay roughly $550,000 worth of debts owed to the corporation, the result of a QEC hardware issue that charged the city for only 10 per cent of the power consumed by its water treatment plant beginning in 2003.
“I know that this is out of the ordinary, dealing with something that’s 17 years old,” said Finance Minister George Hickes when speaking about the content of Bill 48, the Forgiveness of Debts Act.
When the QEC identified the meter error in 2010, it charged the city for the difference.
Following years of no payments, the city had accumulated late-payment fees of roughly $420,000.
According to briefing documents provided to MLAs, the QEC and the City of Iqaluit first came to their agreement in 2017.
Two years later the QEC board of directors approved the agreement, a delay that was caused by “our own internal structure,” said Chris Bradley, QEC’s chief financial officer.
“It’s somewhat reassuring to hear that there was work that had to be done internally to get this approved,” replied John Main, MLA for Arviat North-Whale Cove.
“Is the forgiveness of these late charges something that individual customers can come in and apply for? Is there a form they can fill out or is it something that’s simply unique in this case because of the mistake that was made by the QEC?”
Hickes responded by saying that it’s something that’s open to anyone.
“Anytime somebody falls into arrears with the Qulliq Energy Corp., I strongly advise them to contact Qulliq Energy Corp. representatives to make a repayment plan,” he said.
“Any penalties and fees would be frozen at that point, but if you go on and on and on without paying your bill, there are penalties and interest that are accrued over it.”
According to Hickes, there have been two other instances where significant amounts were owed to the QEC as the result of similar meter hardware errors. In both instances no late fees were charged to those customers as payment arrangements had been made.
To ensure that there are no ongoing meter errors, the QEC hired a specialized contractor to review their commercial customer accounts and identify any areas that required adjustment.