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Consumers not on contract in store for utility shock
Colleen Schmidt, CTV Calgary
Published Monday, April 28, 2014 5:24PM MDT
Last Updated Monday, April 28, 2014 6:58PM MDT
Electricity prices across the province are expected to jump by 40 per cent and those consumers who have not signed onto a contract could be in for a shock when their bill arrives.
The Alberta Electric System Operator, AESO, says prices will spike when Alberta’s electricity supply takes a 12 day hit in May.
AESO officials say a generation plant and large transmission line will be shut down during that time to connect new equipment to the province’s power grid.
“This outage, because it’s such a large one, I think the market is foreseeing an impact, which is what we’re seeing, but it’s expected to be restricted to those 12 days,” said Miranda Keating Erickson, AESO Vice President.
City owned Enmax's default electricity rate is expected to respond by raising the average from 7 cents per kilowatt hour to about 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour.
CTV Calgary Consumer Specialist Lea Williams-Doherty says some transmission fees, that are tied to the electricity rate, will also increase.
Lea says what will go up is your local access fee, which is a line item on your Enmax bill and is a fee that most cities charge to power companies to access government land.
She says that in Calgary, when the electric rate goes up the local access fee increases proportionately even though there's no additional costs and no logical reason for it to do so.
Other cities just charge a low, flat rate
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says Calgarians pay Enmax about $200M a year in local access fees.
That's about $100 per home per year and next month it will be about $2.00 higher than usual due to the rate spike.
"Every other municipal government in this province is charging a fixed access fee on people’s bills and Calgary sticks out like a sore thumb when prices are high this is a major, cash windfall for the city government,” said Richard Truscott from Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
Lea asked the two city councillors who sit on Enmax's board, Brian Pincott and Peter Demong, why the city ties Enmax's local access fee to electricity prices instead of charging a lower, flat access fee like other cities.
Neither councillor responded so she asked Enmax and was referred to the city's corporate tax department.
In an email, its spokesperson described how the fee is charged but didn't speak to why it is charged.
(With files from Lea Williams-Doherty)