Islanders deserve fair and equitable rates for electricity

Opposition MLA and Shadow Critic for Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy provides alternate rate structure that helps vulnerable Islanders and low-use customers that highlights innovation and efficiency in resource generation and demand-side management

Charlottetown, PE – Tomorrow, Stephen Howard, MLA and Opposition Shadow Critic for Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy, is presenting to the IRAC hearing on the application by Maritime Electric to raise electricity costs.

“This rate increase request misses the mark. It is an uninspired application to raise consumer costs on the backs of low- and middle-income Islanders and low-use customers,” stated Mr. Howard. “Low- and middle-income Islanders are particularly vulnerable to increased costs in utilities. Higher electricity prices lead to less spending on other basic necessities such as shelter and food. This should not be. As a community of Islanders, we can do better to ensure all Islanders have equitable access to the basic necessities of life.”

Under the proposed rate structure by Maritime Electric, there will continue to be two blocks with two different rates based upon energy consumption. Low-use electrical customers are found in the first block and pay the highest rate for electricity. It is important to note the majority of low- and middle-income Islanders and residential customers are first block users.  Second block users are high-use electrical customers and they pay a lower rate for electricity. Under this rate structure, first block customers effectively subsidize the energy costs of second block customers.

“By utilizing a declining rate structure such as this,” explained Mr. Howard, “the public utility is basically rewarding high-use consumers for their unbridled consumption of electricity and passing the costs to those who use less electricity. This is not fair and flies in the face of the Electric Power Act.”

Under the Electric Power Act, the public utility is expected to provide power at a reasonable and non-discriminatory rate. The costs should be equitable. The Act also states the public utility is to utilize energy efficiency measures and demand-side resource management.

“The application by Maritime Electric shows neither investment in energy efficiencies or demand-side resource management. Despite being ordered by the Commission to complete a rate study to identify energy efficiencies and explore innovative demand-side resource management after its last application in 2016, the utility instead chose to ignore its responsibility as a good corporate citizen of Prince Edward Island,” said Mr. Howard.

“If the public utility had followed the directions it had received, it could have demonstrated their concern for Islanders by providing a rate structure that is fair and equitable. Not only that, it could have demonstrated forward thinking in the areas of responsible resource generation and management. In today’s changing climate environment, we need good, sound investment in measures that positively impact our environment and take the necessary steps to meeting our climate change targets.”

At the IRAC hearing, Mr. Howard will present an alternate rate structure proposal that is fair, helps vulnerable Islanders, and helps mitigate the impact on our climate. The proposal (a) fairly and equitably redistributes energy costs across the residential rate class; (b) provides lower electricity rates for low- and middle-income Islanders and low-use consumers; and (c) addresses our collective need to both measurably and effectively mitigate the reality of climate change.

“Our proposal,” affirmed Hon. Peter Bevan-Baker, Leader of the Official Opposition, “addresses the unfairness of penalizing low- and middle-income Islanders and low-use customers. It encourages higher-use consumers – those with the greatest capacity to increase their energy efficiency – to reduce their carbon footprint. Finally, it satisfies the requirements of the Electric Power Act by reiterating the responsibility of the public utility to be efficient and innovative in generating and managing electricity demand.”

- 30 -

For media inquiries, please contact:

Jonathan Hamel
Director of Communications
Office of the Official Opposition
Tel:         (902) 213-0718
Email:    jdhamel@assembly.pe.ca

  

Additional Resources

Questions and Answers about our intervening: Official Opposition Q&A - IRAC Docket UE20944.pdf

Opposition Intervener brief: Official Opposition Intervener brief - IRAC Docket UE20944.pdf