© JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN
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.”
“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.