April 11 deadline to comment on Nunavut power rates
Nunavummiut have until April 11 to voice their opinions, in writing, on the Qulliq Energy Corporation’s request to raise power rates by 5.1% this spring.
QEC submitted a request for a rate increase to the Utilities Rates Review Council last fall, before the Government of Nunavut announced it would raise fuel prices across the territory starting Jan. 1.
That means there could eventually be a request for a bigger increase in power rates.
“We have to cover the revenue shortfall somehow and the only way we really can is through an increase,” says Peter Ma, QEC’s president and CEO. “Unless the government decides to then give us a direct subsidy or a direct amount to offset those fuel price increases."
Five per cent is the average increase QEC is seeking. Prices will go up in some communities and down in others, a step towards a single power rate for all of Nunavut.
QEC’s proposed price changes, if approved, were supposed to take effect April 1. But the power utility only submitted its General Rate application to the URRC on December 20th. QEC had originally submitted its GRA on November 1 but withdrew it a week later. With a comment period opened until April 11, it could take some time after that before a decision is made. Any rate changes will not be retroactive.
The GN’s fuel price increase may also cause QEC to re-examine the fuel rider that’s currently in place until March 31. The fuel rider was 5.31 cents per kWh in November, but was reduced to 3.92 cents for KWh on December 1 on an interim, refundable basis.
It’s up to the URRC to review any requests for changes to power rates or fuel riders, and make a recommendation to the minister in charge of Qulliq Energy Corporation. That minister, currently Paul Okalik, makes the final decision.
QEC is the only generator and distributor of electricity in Nunavut. It has twenty-seven power plants across the territory that rely on diesel.