Quebec residences are facing higher energy bills thanks to a decision by the provincial energy board to freeze industrial rates instead, a consumer group said Tuesday.
Option consommateurs was reacting to a decision by the board to allow Hydro-Québec to raise the residential rate by 0.7 per cent starting next month.
"We think the energy board could have lowered the rate," said the group's energy analyst, Marc-Olivier Moisan-Plante.
Hydro-Québec managed to cut costs last year in the residential sector. But rather than passing those savings on to residential consumers, the energy board decided to spare industrial clients a rate hike, Moisan-Plante said.
By his estimate, Hydro-Québec could have afforded to reduce residential energy bills by 1.2 per cent. Instead, the average client will see an annual increase of $11.
That means Quebec residences will have a total energy bill slightly above the Canadian average, according to Moisan-Plante.
Hydro-Québec had initially requested the energy board grant a 1.7 per cent increase, citing harsh winters and rising supply costs.
The 0.7 per cent increase is the smallest in years. In 2015, the rates went up by 2.9 per cent.
The rate change comes after Hydro-Québec announced last month that it posted net income of $3.1 billion for 2015.
It was the second straight year the utility's income topped the $3-billion mark.
The new rates go in effect on April 1, 2016.