John Perry, who farms near Delburne, is concerned about the high cost of transmission and distribution on his electricity bill. (Photo contributed)

John Perry, who farms near Delburne, is concerned about the high cost of transmission and distribution on his electricity bill. (Photo contributed)

Central Alberta man questions extra charges on his electricity bill

Companies experience substantial costs to make electricity available to customers, says AUC

A Red Deer County resident wants to know why transmission and distribution charges on his electricity bill are so high.

John Perry, who farms near Delburne, said he only paid 91 cents for electricity in September, but the transmission charge was $38 and distribution charge was $53.07.

“I don’t mind paying for the power. It’s all the other charges. To me it seems to be pretty high,” said the 78-year-old.

And the amount of those charges have doubled since last year, he said.

Perry said he recently discussed the costs with others at the local curling rink, and they wanted answers too. In the past, he was told the construction of more transmission lines was to blame for the price hikes.

“I just think people should be aware of all the charges they are getting charged for other transmission lines.”

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According to the Alberta Utilities Commission’s website, energy costs are running at levels at or near historic lows, but the costs to deliver electricity or natural gas remain constant, or increase, as the province-wide transmission system expands, companies replace ageing assets, and they work to expand and reinforce their distribution systems because of the population growth in Alberta.

So even when energy consumption is low, companies still experience substantial costs associated with making services available to customers.

“The system to deliver electricity is costly to operate. Those costs have risen and continue to rise,” said Geoff Scotton, senior communications advisor with the commission.

He said transmission and distribution charges include both fixed and variable components.

“As a regulator, the commission works very hard to ensure that distribution and transmission rates produce an outcome where consumers receive safe and reliable power at just and reasonable rates. We also need to balance that with ensuring that the owners of distribution and transmission companies have reasonable opportunity to earn a fair return on their investment,” Scotton said.

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He said companies make applications to the commission concerning their costs which are scrutinized in a public proceeding to make sure they are sound.

Annual rates generally go into effect at the beginning of the year and rates can vary depending on the company, he said.



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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