Red Deer power rates going up

Alberta Balancing Pool costs being felt on local power bills.

The typical Red Deer electric bill will go up by over $3 a month this year.

Most of the cost is tied to a $2.70 charge from Alberta Balancing Pool, an entity created during energy restructuring in 1999. A typical monthly power bill of about $90 will go up by $3.24 a month.

Until this year, residents have seen rebates on their bills from the Balancing Pool, through its control of energy contracts left over following an auction of power generation contracts during energy deregulation.

However, this year it is a charge because of the effects of the provincial government’s carbon levy on energy contracts, known as Power Purchase Arrangements.

Jim Jorgensen, Red Deer’s Electric Light and Power manager, said there are more changes to come this year on the electricity front. But what those will be and how residents will be affected is unclear.

City council has often voiced their frustration at the number of fixed costs in the electricity system.

In Red Deer, power consumption and the connected revenues have gone down. But there are so many fixed costs that the difference in revenue must be made up by raising rates.

Coun. Lawrence Lee said it is a situation where residents who cut their power consumption may still see their bills increase.

That is counter-productive and needs to be addressed at the provincial level, he said.

Coun. Paul Harris sees electricity and how it is paid for as one of the biggest risks to the city and its residents.

Harris believes it is time the city got into micro-generation, producing its own electricity on a small scale rather than be at the whims of the provincial system.

Coun. Buck Buchanan agreed, calling “generation the key.”

Mayor Tara Veer pointed out the city also had to cover new balancing pool costs, which were then passed on to the public through the budget and taxes. That meant residents were hit twice by the balancing pool charges, on their tax bills and their utility bills.

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