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Power corp asks for rate hike

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Nov 29/06) - Despite a marginal increase in 2006 annual profits, the power company wants to raise the price of electricity for its customers.

Last Friday, Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC) applied to the Public Utilities Board for a review of its revenue requirements for 2006/2007 and 2007/2008. Following that, the board will look at its rate-increase application.

"There have been a lot of changes in our business environment since the last time we filed a general rate increase in 2001," said Judy Goucher, chief financial officer of NTPC. "Most of the communities we serve in the NWT use power generated by diesel engines (and) the cost of diesel has increased by 60 per cent."

NTPC also blames the cost of hiring in a tight labour market and inflation - that the company's revenue increase has not been enough to offset - for its decision to ask for a rate hike.

In 2005, NTPC posted net earnings of $6,429,000. For 2006, that figure was $7,192,000.

The current cost of electricity for residential customers in the NWT is 18.22 cents per kilowatt hour (kW/h), which is subsidized up to 700kW/h per month. If the board approves the rate increase, customers will pay slightly less than 20 cents/kWh.

NTPC expects the average residential power bill to increase by about $20 per month.

In the meantime, customers will note an interim rate increase of between $12 and $13 per month on their bills.

The 2001 rate increase process involved 50 intervenors and took two years to complete; 10 months for phase one (revenue requirement) and 14 months for phase two (rate set).