Hydro rates rising 2.5% for most customers
Additional revenue will fund ongoing capital construction
Most Manitoba Hydro customers will see their rates go up by 2.5 per cent this year.
The Public Utilities Board approved the rate increase, which is less than the 3.5-per-cent increase for all customer classes in the 2019/2020 fiscal year that Hydro had applied for. That number was already scaled down from the nearly eight per cent increase Hydro had originally said it would seek.
The additional revenue brought in by the increase will be funnelled into a deferral account and used to pay for ongoing capital construction projects.
After reviewing Hydro's application, the board determined "that Manitoba Hydro does not require an increase to its revenues in 2019/20 fiscal year," according to the board's final order on the general rate application.
Revenue projections changed
In its November application, Hydro initially predicted that without a rate increase, it would suffer a $28-million loss in the upcoming fiscal year. A supplemental filing in February showed that Hydro's financial outlook had improved by $92 million, with a projected net income of $64 million.
The approved rate increase will mean an increase of about $2.34 per month for residential customers without electric heating using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month, or $4.47 per month for residential customers with electric heating using 2,000 kilowatt hours per month.
There will be no increase for First Nations on-reserve residential and diesel zone residential customer classes.
When you're not running your business as well as you should, you can't rely exclusively on Manitoba ratepayers to foot the bill- Byron Williams, Public Interest Law Centre
Last year, the board approved an increase of 3.6 per cent.
Byron Williams, the director of the Public Interest Law Centre, argued against Hydro's requested rate hike during the PUB hearings.
The public utility's books prove it doesn't need additional revenue this fiscal year to stay out of the red, he said.
He argues ratepayers shouldn't be punished once expensive projects like the Keeyask Generating Station comes online next year.
"It sends a really strong efficiency signal to Manitoba Hydro that when you have cost overruns, when you're not running your business as well as you should, you can't rely exclusively on Manitoba ratepayers to foot the bill," he told CBC Manitoba's Radio Noon.
NDP MLA Andrew Swan said it's reassuring that Hydro's rate demands are being kept at bay.
"What it really is is a victory for Manitobans, who can be assured that Manitoba Hydro has embarked on the right course of expanding, of generating more power," Swan said, noting he would have preferred no price hike at all.
With files from Ian Froese, Pat Kaniuga
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