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Record-high regulated rate option could push Alberta power bills even higher


About 35 per cent of Alberta households -- many of them low income -- could see record high prices power prices next month. 

Those paying the regulated rate option (RRO) will be facing down a rising default rate in August. It'll result in an estimated average monthly bill add of $115, compared to those on a fixed rate.

If approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission, the Enmax RRO for Calgarians will rise from 27.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) in July to 31.9 cents next month. 

In Edmonton, that rate through Epcor could go as high as 32.5 cents. 

"Wholesale market prices are very high right now, and they're expected to be high for the next few months at least," consumer advocate Jim Wachowich said. 

The rise comes as thousands of Albertans already complain of outlandish energy bills. 

And many of those using the RRO model don't have the cash to spare. 

The rate is typically reserved for low income earners or those with low credit who don't qualify for a cheaper fixed rate.


They're already paying more fees. 

RRO prices in Alberta have been extra high because those customers are now repaying the $200 million deferral from the UCP government's recent price cap. 

A recent University of Calgary study suggests that deferral is hurting Albertan households with low credit and small savings the most. 

"They said to Albertans 'we're going to let the private market decide how things work out,'" NDP Leader Rachel Notley said.


Premier Danielle Smith says the high bills are not her fault. 

She's blaming other governments for today's issues, saying the increase is a result of what she considers a premature push to clean energy. 

"Ideology from the NDP and their federal counterparts in the Liberal Party have created the problem we face," she said Friday. 

Her Affordability and Utilities Minister said no to a CTV News interview request. 

Nathan Neudorf's office instead sent a statement promising the province is "working with industry and stakeholders to review the RRO and identify longer-term solutions throughout the electricity system to keep electricity affordable."

Neudorf's note says eventually he'd like to phase out the regulated rate option, something Smith said last week. 

That's when she told Albertans to get off the RRO if they can: likely a tough proposition for many low income or low credit consumers. 

One expert says real action is needed. 

Wachowich believes it's time to rethink -- and maybe even re-regulate -- the entire utility delivery system. 

"We can see the problem, we can understand the scope of the problem, and we really have to start talking about solutions," he said. "We can't just say the RRO is broken." Top Stories

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