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Maritime Electric proposes rate hike for Islanders

- Contributed

Islanders might be paying more for electricity in 2019 if Maritime Electric has its way.

The utility has a proposal before the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC) to increase rates 3.3 per cent over the next three years — 1.1 per cent in 2019, 2020 and 2021 — for the average customer.

“It’ll vary for customers depending on their energy use but for the majority of our customers we’re proposing 1.1 per cent over the next three years, per year, if approved, starting in March 2019,’’ said Kim Griffin, spokeswoman with Maritime Electric.

The application has been filed with IRAC and there will be a public process for those who wish to submit comments. There is a link available on Maritime Electric’s website as well as IRAC’s.

One of the factors for the proposed increase is the planned decommissioning of the Charlottetown generating station. That’s set for 2022, 2023.

Also beginning March 1, 2019, customers will notice a new line item on their monthly bills, one that’s set out for energy efficiency and demand side management.

“It’s going to be a separate cost line item that customers will see on their bill,’’ Griffin said, adding that there are a number of energy efficient programs and energy conservation plans filed by government to IRAC.

Maritime Electric and the city of Summerside will bear the cost. It will cost Maritime Electric customers about 46 cents per month on their bills.

The P.E.I. utility is also taking a closer look at how it bills customers. At present, customers are billed under two blocks of electricity consumption — up to 2,000 kilowatt hours per month and over 2,000 kilowatt hours hours per month.

“Right now, if you use more than 2,000 you’re actually charged a lower rate so you actually get a better deal if you use more,’’ Griffin said. “That’s probably sending the wrong signal from an energy conservation perspective and P.E.I. is the only province in Canada left with this declining block rate.’’

So, Maritime Electric has ordered some special meters in and will have a look at it over the winter and in 2021.

“There are going to be some customers who don’t want us to eliminate it and some customers that do. Certainly, there are more and more people using electricity but, at the same time, in this day of energy conservation we do believe that it is an important component to look at.’’

Griffin said customers can call the call centre to find out how the proposed rate increase affects them personally.

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