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Yukon Chamber of Commerce blames utilities board for part of power rate hike

If the board was a business, 'it would be out of business,' says a director of the Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber director says if board was a business, 'it would be out of business'

The Yukon Chamber of Commerce says Yukoners are paying more for power because of a delay by the Yukon Utilities Board. (Chuck Stoody/Canadian Press)

The Yukon Chamber of Commerce is blasting the Yukon Utilities Board for the amount of time it spent sorting out a rate application.

The board approved an almost 12 per cent rate hike for Yukon Energy late last month, announcing it on Thursday. Part of the rate increase is designed to allow Yukon Energy to recover revenue it lost because the permanent increase is 17 months late. That delay was due, in large part, to a legal dispute between the utility and the Yukon Utilities Board over cost recovery policies.

Hector Campbell, the chair of the chamber's energy committee, says that the utilities board took 29 months to rule on the rate hike, an amount of time he says is unacceptable.

He said 62 percent of the extra cost to consumers can be blamed on the delay.

"If the utility board were a business, they would be out of business by now," Campbell said.

Campbell said when the Yukon Energy Corporation applied for about a nine percent increase in 2017, the utilities board allowed it an interim increase of 4.6 percent.

In its final decision, the board allowed the corporation an additional 4.7 percent increase. That's applied retroactively to 2017, meaning customers will have to make up the difference since then.

Campbell said the board's refusal to let Yukon Energy use revenues to pay for energy conservation programs is also wrong.

Board 'out of touch'

He said it shows how out of touch with reality the board is.

"They're really putting a crimp in the ability of both utilities to make a difference in keeping energy costs lower in the future," said Campbell.

Campbell said overall, change is needed in how the board operates.

He said it's up to the government to decide what, and by how much.

As for the rate increase, Campbell said it's not great news, but it was expected.

He said the energy corporation needs to replace aging infrastructure and meet increased operating costs.

The Yukon Utilities Board had not responded to requests for comment from CBC as of Friday afternoon.

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