Saskatchewan

Sask. Party promises 1-year 10 per cent SaskPower rebate

The Saskatchewan Party is promising a one-year 10 per cent rebate to all SaskPower customers if elected.

Sask. Party says $261M rebate to come from General Revenue Fund not SaskPower

The Saskatchewan Party says it will offer a one-year 10 per cent rebate to all SaskPower customers at a cost of $260 million to the Crown utility. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

The Saskatchewan Party is promising a one-year 10 per cent rebate to all SaskPower customers if elected.

Leader Scott Moe made the promise Thursday morning in Regina.

The rebate would be applied automatically to all SaskPower bills starting in December 2020.

"We are going to give everyone a break on their SaskPower bill to help drive Saskatchewan's economic recovery and make life more affordable," Moe said.

"This 10 per cent rebate applies to everyone: residential customers, farm customers, businesses and institutions like hospitals, schools and universities."

The Saskatchewan Party said the rebate would cost the Crown utility $87.2 million in 2020-21 and $174.4 million in 2021-2022.

"That's money that will go back into the economy and help drive our recovery from the pandemic over the next year," Moe said. 

Moe denied the rebate was a ploy to "buy votes" and said it did not compare to the NDP promise to offer $100 SGI rebates to drivers. At the time, the government criticized the NDP rebate saying it was using the SGI savings account was an "election slush fund" that would add to the province's projected deficit of $2.1 billion. 

"Virtually everyone pays a power bill not everyone licenses a vehicle," Moe said Thursday.

Saskatchewan Party Leader announces a plan to give SaskPower customers a one-year rebate. He said the money would come out of the General Revenue Fund and not from SaskPower. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

Moe said SaskPower would "be whole" because his party plans to pay for the rebate by taking from the province's general revenue fund.

He said SaskPower will provide a 10 per cent grant to power utilities in Saskatoon and Swift Current, with the expectation the savings are passed down to customers in those cities. 

The Sask. Party said the rebate would save the average residential customer $215 next year and the average farm customer $845.

Sask. Party has history 'jacking electricity prices,' NDP says

The NDP released a statement in response to Moe's announcement. The party said the Sask. Party government's record is to increase SaskPower rates.

"Today Sask. Party Leader Scott Moe desperately tried to shed his reputation of jacking electricity prices for everyday people and businesses in Saskatchewan," it said.

"Under the Sask. Party, SaskPower bills for a family with an income of $75,000 have increased from $901 to $1,418 from 2007-08 to 2019-20."

In July, SaskPower said COVID-19 was having an impact on revenues, with sales down 10 per cent between April and June. However, SaskPower reported a net income of $205 million in its 2019-20 annual report

The utility also collected $83 million from customers who started paying the federal carbon tax in April 2019.

The Crown has not raised power rates in two years.

Net metering customers to receive rebate

For customers who are using net metering, such as those generating their own solar power, SaskPower will send a $215 rebate.

Moe was asked why the province capped its net metering program in September 2019 and is now offering a rebate for SaskPower customers.

He said the reason was "equitability" and that the rebate would "increase the affordability for all families not just those that are participating in the net metering program."

The net metering program allowed SaskPower customers who were connected to the provincial grid to generate their own electricity through solar panels, feed it into the grid and get energy credits for any excess they generated.

In September 2019, the province announced the program — which was slated to continue until 2021 — had reached its megawatt capacity two years early and would not be taking new subscribers until further notice. 

SaskPower said at the time the cancelled program would have required a seven per cent increase for all ratepayers to continue.

About the Author

Adam Hunter

Journalist

Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for 13 years. He hosts the CBC podcast On the Ledge. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him: adam.hunter@cbc.ca

with files from The Canadian Press

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