Jamie Fox wants emergency sitting of legislature to debate power rates

Teresa Wright
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FILE PHOTO: Prince Edward Island Progressive Conservative Interim Party Leader Jamie Fox

Fox calls new agreement with Maritime Electric to increase rates by 6.9 per cent “ridiculous”

Opposition Leader Jamie Fox is calling for an emergency session of the legislature to debate the impact of hiking electricity rates in P.E.I. at a time proposals are being floated to raise the HST and add new tolls to the highway that leads to the Island.

Fox called the province’s new agreement with Maritime Electric that proposes to increase power rates by 6.9 per cent over the next three years “ridiculous.”

RELATED: Electricity rate hike of 6.9 per cent proposed for P.E.I.

“Islanders are already paying the highest electricity rates in the country,” Fox said.

“Islanders don’t have any more money, but yet we’re trying to get blood from a stone.”

On Friday, a new general rate agreement between the P.E.I government and Maritime Electric was submitted to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission for approval. It includes an annual 2.3 per cent increase in power rates for the next three years and cancels plans to build a new $68-million combustion turbine generator.

But Fox is concerned this rate increase is coming at the same time the premier of Nova Scotia is proposing a regional HST of 15 per cent, which would mean an increase for P.E.I.’s HST of one per cent.

Fox is also concerned about the financial repercussions of a proposal to introduce new tolls to the highway in Aulac, N.B.

The new power agreement in P.E.I. locks Island ratepayers into annual increases while new taxes and tolls could soon hit Islanders in their pocketbooks, Fox said.

“It shows me the premier is not concerned with what Islanders have to pay,” he said.

“If we’re looking at possible tolls, a possible HST hike, now increased power rates, locked-in secret deals – I think the house should be recalled. Bring the house in and let’s put these issues on the table right now.”

But Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker says he welcomes much of the news included in this new rate agreement, notably the cancellation of plans for the new CT4 generator.

“It was clear to me any sort of progressive, forward-thinking energy policy for the Island couldn’t really include building a new diesel powered generator. That’s really so backward thinking,” Bevan-Baker said.

“I’m really delighted that’s been shelved.”

He also welcomed news the province is looking to adopt a more diverse energy supply system and that energy conservation will be a key part of the province’s upcoming energy strategy.

“Basically, the Liberal party is adopting a Green party energy policy, and I’m delighted to see that.”

Bevan-Baker did say he was disappointed a proposed change to the second block for residential rates is being deferred until 2019.

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: Maritime Electric, Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission

Geographic location: P.E.I., Nova Scotia, Aulac

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Recent comments

  • Pronto
    January 30, 2016 - 13:40

    It should be a welcome suggestion. The Premier wants to be transparent, so here is an opportunity, before saddling Islanders with more expenses. - (any increase of course gets added HST) . There are too many unanswered questions in this deal, and Ms, Biggar was not going to elaborate of course. Why is M. E. allowed to include the cost of the cable in their increase? Is the cable not paid for by taxpayers at various levels? What is the share paid by M.E. if any? What is the income from flow-though rental of the cable to public and private windmill operators? We deserve to know more than just being told, - pay or go dark, - after all we are supposedly living in a democracy.

  • taxpayer
    January 30, 2016 - 13:32

    It may be prudent to hark back to the rush to windmills by the Ghiz government. If we had journalists or opposition staff capable of researching this, I think we will find tons of taxpayers money given away to private windmill companies, and of course great investments in Gov. owned windmills. Taxpayers are owed an account from the Government how this whole windmill adventure has performed, and how the cable industry (private off island companies) will benefit from. There are too many contradictions and unknowns for ratepayers of M.E. to gage if this is honest or are we being sold a bill of goods with this secret government contract with M.E. Mr. Premier, when you get back from touring the world perhaps you could enlighten us? We should be told

  • Frank
    January 30, 2016 - 09:59

    Peter Bevan-Baker is just an honest Liberal if there is just a thing.

  • no thanks
    January 30, 2016 - 08:34

    newer businesses, homes ,offices and apartment complexes are now being built with heat provided by electricity rather than oil -- combined with the trend towards increased residential and commercial heat pump installations -the demand at peak periods for electricity is causing those who heat with oil to indirectly subsidize the more affluent who can offord the newer apartment, the expensive heat pump installation and the expensive air conditioning heat pumps allow

    • Matilda
      January 30, 2016 - 14:24

      Couldn't agree with you more. Also those people who could afford to install those heat pumps also got grants (our tax dollars) from government to assist them in putting in the heat pumps. They probably take a winter holiday in the south as well. Heat pump users should be paying extra.

  • no thanks
    January 30, 2016 - 07:43

    heat pumps are causing extra electricity demand !!! PLACE A SURTAX ON HEAT PUMP USERS !!!!

  • Citizen
    January 30, 2016 - 07:08

    I thought the new leader was going to be good for the Island worker class. I couldn't have been more wrong. We are struggle now to pay bills and now they think Maritime Electric needs more money. I am guessing they have shares in Maritime Electic more money for the leader!

  • Stop using taxpayer funding for electricity
    January 30, 2016 - 02:17

    Ghiz did the wrong thing with that energy accord back in 2008 or 2009 by taking on $80 million in MECL debt in exchange for lower power rates for a few years. It's a private company. Don't ever do this again. Would you do the darn with Irving to make gas cheaper by a few cents/litre? Why is one form of energy any different? Leave the private sector alone. Stop loading debt onto the backs of Islandsrs. Ditto, do not put taxpayer funding into an undersea cable or generating station. Fortis has deep pockets. Let them finance this stuff.

  • Prince Edward in Ctown
    January 30, 2016 - 01:46

    I'm a commercial energy consultant in Alberta. Alberta is a deregulated market meaning my clients have the opportunity to have extremely cheap rates. If only my home province wasn't so far behind with the times then maybe PEI would be deregulated too. I'm actually in communication with our CEO to try to work our market in favor of the people of PEI!!

  • MFH
    January 29, 2016 - 23:03

    Maritime Electric is being given a multi-million dollar, tax-payer funded cable, that is going to be used mostly by privately owned foreign windmill companies to move power to their clients. Why are we paying more to subsidize these corporations. Minister Biggar is taking an active part in scamming Islanders on behalf of Maritime Electric and it corporate friends. We should be getting a decrease in rates not the opposite.

  • laurent Beaulieu
    January 29, 2016 - 21:26

    One wonders what there is to debate. The rate increase is over 3 years, so it is in line with the cost of utilities. Less grandstanding and go put a coat on its Winter for pete sake.

  • AMAZED
    January 29, 2016 - 21:05

    First why doesn't Fox explain why the Binns regime thought it was a good idea to guarantee Maritime Electric shareholders a 10% profit every year with tax payer dollars ??? Till then , pipe down .

  • MFH
    January 29, 2016 - 19:30

    Maritime Electric is being given a multi-million dollar, tax-payer funded cable, that is going to be used mostly by privately owned foreign windmill companies to move power to their clients. Why are we paying more to subsidize these corporations. Minister Biggar is taking an active part in scamming Islanders on behalf of Maritime Electric and it corporate friends. We should be getting a decrease in rates not the opposite.