Costs will rise to prevent second #darknl, advocate says
The price of preventing another massive island-wide power outage may soon start showing up on your electricity bill, the province's consumer advocate warns.
On Thursday, an interim report of the mass outages in January was released by the Liberty Consulting Group, recommending Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro better prepare for severe winter weather conditions in future.
- Power outages likely until 2017, #darknl interim report warns
- Read the full text of Liberty's report here
This would mean rising costs to consumers, as the utility would be spending more money on electricity system upgrades and repairs.
Tom Johnson, the consumer advocate for Newfoundland and Labrador, says this shouldn't come as a surprise to customers.
"There's no doubt that investment decisions on the island's interconnected system, or any system, is going to have a rate pressure impact," said Johnson.
"You don't get extra reliability without paying for it, and the last portion of reliability is the most expensive to get, quite frankly."
In January, hundreds of thousands of customers across the island experienced power outages — some for up to a week. Johnson said in order to prevent this from happening again, the investments are necessary, and therefore increased costs to customers are unavoidable.
According to Johnson, Hydro has been planning upgrades for years, and investing additional resources, so the average consumer should get used to seeing an increase in their bills.
"There's going to be cost consequences that come from trying to make sure getting Muskrat done in a safe reliable fashion. There's no free lunch — those investments will have some rate impacts, and there will be further rate impacts before we get to Muskrat Falls - you can mark it down."
Johnson said finding a balance between a sustainable system and costs to consumers will be an ongoing challenge in the years ahead.