SaskPower bills to increase again

There is good news and bad news when it comes to future utility bills in Saskatchewan.

SaskEnergy applies to drop its rate

SaskPower wants to hike its rates by 5 per cent on Canada Day and again by 5 per cent on New Year's Day, 2017. (Arielle Zerr/CBC)

There is good news and bad news when it comes to future utility bills in Saskatchewan.

SaskPower is asking to hike its rates again — by five per cent this July 1 and by another five per cent on Jan. 1, 2017.

The company says the increase will add an extra $6 to the average residential customer's bill each month.

The opposition says some of the blame for the rate increases belongs with SaskPower's smart meter debacle as well as cost overruns at its carbon capture plant. 

SaskPower's president, Mike Marsh, says his company is spending an average of a billion dollars a year on infrastructure projects. However he says a rate hike every six months is not going to become a regular occurrence.

Mike Marsh, president and CEO of SaskPower, says the company should not have to apply for any rate hikes in 2017. (William Desaulniers/CBC)

"I can tell you that with these two increases I think we're in a very good position to not have an increase for a full year," Marsh said. 

SaskEnergy, on the other hand, is asking to lower its rates for natural gas beginning Nov. 1.

It would drop the price of the commodity itself by 14 per cent from $4.30 per gigajoule to $3.65/GJ — the lowest rate in 16 years.

It would, however, raise its delivery charge by 8.6 per cent, or about $3.50 per month.

The total effect of those changes would lower the average residential natural gas bill by $1.70 per month.

With electricity and gas combined, the changes would mean an extra $4.30 per month for homeowners this year.

The proposals will be reviewed by the province's rate review panel in two separate applications. The final decision is always up to provincial cabinet.