REGINA - The provincial government has announced it has accepted the Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel's recommendation to increase SaskPower rates.
The rates will increase four per cent this fall and four per cent again in 2023 and is the first rate increase since 2018.
According to the province the new rates will result in an average increase of approximately $5 on residential customers' bills on Sept. 1, 2022 and another $5 on April 1, 2023.
The province is citing fuel and purchased power expense increases driven by increased natural gas prices as factors. The approved application also includes plans for rate rebalancing and a shift in rate design methodology which will only affect customers who pay separate demand and energy charges. Residential customers and most farm and small commercial customers will not be impacted.
"The decision to increase rates is not taken lightly and came after a thorough review by the independent Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel," Minister Responsible for SaskPower Don Morgan said in a news release. "World events have caused a significant rise in the price of natural gas, and with 42 per cent of Saskatchewan's electricity coming from natural gas-fueled facilities, SaskPower requires additional revenue to maintain reliable operations."
"In the four years since our last increase, SaskPower has worked to find internal efficiencies, but at this time we require additional funding to continue to provide reliable and sustainable power," SaskPower President and CEO Rupen Pandya said in a news release. "We will continue to be transparent about our rate strategy and the need for regular, moderate increases."
The opposition New Democrats have quickly condemned the rate increase. In a statement, SaskPower Critic Aleana Young pointed to families, businesses and industries struggling in an affordability crisis.
“To announce an eight per cent increase to power bills on a summer day before the long weekend is a cowardly move from Scott Moe and his cabinet. Not to mention the Sask. Party plans to hike natural gas rates by 17 per cent just days from now,” Young said. “If Scott Moe thinks his choices – to not provide Saskatchewan families any affordability relief, to hike taxes and fees, then compound those costs with utility rate hikes – are defensible, he should have the courage to get out of his closed-door meetings and explain himself to the people of this province.”