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Power bill spike cold-weather related: NWT Power Corp
Twenty-five per cent more power generated to meet customer demands for December

Cody Punter
Northern News Services
Published Friday, February 28, 2014

Yellowknifers wondering why their power bills were so high for the month of December need to look no further than the cold weather, says a representative of the territory's power corporation.

NNSL photo/graphic

Northwest Territories Power Corporation produced 25 per cent electricity in December than November last year due to cold temperatures. - Cody Punter/NNSL photo

Pam Coulter, communications manager for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, stated in an e-mail that the demand for power fluctuates monthly and seasonally depending on several factors, with the leading cause being the change in temperatures.

"The main contributing factor to this increase in demand, was the extremely cold weather," said Coulter of December's bills, adding that higher temperatures in the summer also lead to more power consumption.

Coulter said the company had to produce 25 per cent more power in December than it did in November to meet the demands of customers. It also produced 16 per cent more power this past December than it did in the same month in 2012.

Laura Carlson, corporate communications manager for Northland Utilities, which buys power wholesale from NTPC then distributes it to Yellowknife, explained that customers are billed on the amount of power they consume.

She said a number of people who have complained to the company about their bills were using space heaters to supplement traditional heating in their homes.

She said running even a small space heater for six hours a day can cause bills to spike by as much as $67 per month.

"A lot of times people don't recognize just how much electricity those things can draw," she said.

She added plugging in your vehicle from the time you get home from work until the time you leave in the morning also costs approximately $50 per month per vehicle.

Carlson added that the electricity used to heat hot water tanks can account for up to 30 per cent of customer's bills.

"All of those combined unfortunately make quite an impact on their bills," she said.

Coulter said the power corporation had to use more diesel than normal during the Dec. 29 power outage in order to restore power to Yellowknife.

Although the cost of that diesel will eventually be passed on to customers, Coulter said the increase would not be reflected in their bills for December and January.

"Power generated by diesel at the Jackfish plant was higher in December 2013 than it was in December 2012. However, the rates charged for energy do not fluctuate monthly based how the power was generated," said Coulter.

Coulter explained that the rates charged by power corp. are set by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) through the general rate application process and cannot be changed without government approval.

She said that PUB approved a 29 per cent rate increase in 2013, however, in order to balance the impact on the customer, the increase was spread over four years.

She said that the next scheduled rate increase - seven per cent -set for April 1.

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