NTPC says current rates don't cover electricity delivery costs, applying for rate increase

Power rates across the territory may be increasing after a rate application was filed by the N.W.T. power corporation. 

The rate increases would vary by region, those with the lowest current rates would see the highest increase

The Northwest Territories Power Corporation has submitted an application to increase electricity rates territory-wide. There hasn't been a rate increase since 2019. (NTPC)

Power rates across the N.W.T.  may be increasing after an application was filed by the territory's power corporation. 

Paul Grant, the chief financial officer for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC), told CBC News the power corporation is requesting the increase because the rates residents currently pay do not cover the cost of delivering electricity. 

The general rate application needs to be approved by the Northwest Territories Public Utilities Board before it can go forward. 

The NTPC can apply for increases every few years to ensure the revenues allow it to keep up with the costs of providing electricity. Any increases are spread over two years to lessen the impact on customers, a news release reads. 

The applied increases vary region to region, with an average increase of seven per cent. The average customer would see a $12 increase on their monthly bill after year two, according to the news release. 

Customers in Norman Wells would see a rate increase of 10 per cent in year one and 10 per cent in year two. However, a territorial government subsidy would be applied and the actual increase for customers would be approximately 3.53 per cent. 

Norman Wells Deputy Mayor Pascal Audet said the increase could be a difficult expense for the community.

"A cost of living increase is not a welcome thing in the community here, because it's already very, very expensive to live in the North," he said.

"Costs in general are going up, gas is skyrocketing. There's no good time, I suppose, for a rate increase but now is not ideal for sure."

Customers in Fort Smith and Fort Resolution could also see an increase of 10 per cent in year one and 10 per cent in year two. 

According to the NTPC website those communities have the lowest rates in the NWT and even after the increase, the rates would remain lower than other communities. 

Customers in Yellowknife would experience a 3.53 per cent increase each year, Hay River a 3.68 per cent increase each year. Most of the rest of the territory would experience around a 2.5 per cent increase each year, but government subsidies would lower this to a 3.5 per cent total increase over the two years.

Grant said the rates customers pay need to cover between 90 to 110 per cent of the cost of service and the increase would ensure every community is meeting this threshold. 

Grant said he understands this is a difficult time to raise the prices with rising costs for a variety of necessities including gas and groceries. 

"This is a challenging time for everyone," he said, adding that electricity rates haven't increased since 2019 and the NTPC has taken the brunt of inflation. 

He said there were other factors for the increase, including climate change and natural disasters like flooding and forest fires. 

Grant said infrastructure was damaged by the devastating flooding that hit Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River in the spring of 2021. 

There have also been positive efforts that have led to higher costs, including energy saving and people who have been turning to renewable energy such as solar power for their homes. 

"All those are great things," Grant said, adding that they unfortunately lead to higher costs because there is less demand for electricity.

The Northwest Territories Public Utilities Board will post a decision on the increase on its website. 

The decision will likely take several months and will be open to participation from the public.