Electricity rates vary
Last change to base rates was in 1992

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 07/97) - New wholesale power rates have been approved by the NWT Public Utilities Board and changes to communities will vary.

Power rates in Hay River, for one, will drop substantially.

Since the Talston dam is nearly paid for and it's inexpensive to run, Hay River residents will benefit this time around.

They will receive a reduction of about 13 per cent, less a federal subsidy that has been eliminated, effectively giving them a nine per cent decrease.

Duane Morgan, manager of Northland Utilities in Hay River, says residents will see that difference on their May bills.

There will be a 12 per cent reduction for commercial customers, meanwhile.

These changes bring Hay River more into line so that their rates reflect 100 per cent of the cost of service, says Morgan.

Hay River has been after a reduction of this magnitude since 1990, says Morgan. In the past, the town has been paying more than the actual costs of providing power for the community.

That's because the NWT Power Corporation took on a system that it's still trying to balance, says Bill Braden, spokesman for the corporation.

Some customer categories have been paying more than actual user costs, such as those paid by government and some commercial customers.

The NWT Power Corporation took on rate balancing in September 1985. From then on, the shift has been from the overcharged to the undercharged, private domestic customers.

The emphasis is also moving away from cross-subsidization to community cost-based rates, says Braden.

The power corporation put a 15 per cent ceiling on its rate increases. As a result, it will take a long time before all the communities come into line. There's a 30 per cent floor for decreases as well.

Yellowknifers can expect a reduction of about half a percentage point for domestic customers and a 2.98 per cent increase for commercial customers.

The Power Corporation's commercial customers will receive increases in their minimum monthly demand charges from $24.60 to $30. Domestic customers will see increases in monthly service charges double from $6.15 to $12.

All other rates in 44 diesel communities will remain unchanged until decisions by the NWT Public Utilities Board are finalized in upcoming weeks.

More information should also be available once final retail electricity rates have been approved by the Public Utilities Board.