Upgrades may not hit pocket book: Newfoundland Power

Electricity upgrades that were the focus of a recent independent review may not necessarily mean higher bills for customers, Newfoundland Power says.
Newfoundland Power says a surplus may help with the cost of Hydro system upgrades to avoid future blackouts without having to pass the cost on to ratepayers. (CBC)

Electrical system upgrades that were the focus of a recent independent review may not necessarily mean increased costs for customers, Newfoundland Power says. 

The Liberty Consulting Group, whose interim report on island-wide outages in early January was released last week by the Public Utilities Board, recommended upgrades to prevent similar outages through to 2017.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro said it has a proposal to purchase a $119-million gas turbine so it can increase generation, which would allow an additional 100 MW to come onto the grid.

Hydro said it may need to increase rates to help cover the cost of these upgrades, but Newfoundland Power said there may be other options to help downgrade the cost for customers.

Newfoundland Power said money that's been put aside in a rate stabilization plan — hitting a nearly $120-million surplus — could potentially cover the costs of the new turbine.

The plan was to return this money to the customer in some way, and Newfoundland Power said the money may be used to cover the cost of the generator.

This would still benefit customers, because their rates would remain stable despite bit changes to the province's power system, the company said in a statement.