On Thursday, the provincial government presented a new directive to the Public Utilities Commission to extend one-time credit to customers whose electricity prices are affected by the price of oil.
Electricity customers who are not part of the Labrador interconnected grid, including those using diesel on the north Labrador coast, will receive the credit.
The credit, announced at a news conference on Thursday morning, will come from the rate stabilization fund, which has an estimated surplus of about $ 50 million because low oil prices mean NL Hydro spent less on fuel. Holyrood thermal power plant.
Normally, a surplus would be paid over a year, but customers this year will receive the credit in the form of a lump sum, as of July, the amount of which varies according to the consumption of electricity.
“Given the difficult times many are in, we believe that a single initial invoice credit would be much more useful to customers than a small monthly drop over the next 12 months,” said the Minister of Natural Resources. , Siobhan Coady, at the Provincial Government Announcement Thursday morning.
Premier Dwight Ball said that with many households and businesses struggling financially, the single credit is meant to make your life easier.
“We have asked the council of commissioners of the Public Service Commission to adopt a policy so that credit is immediately dispersed,” said Mr. Ball.
“It is to help people when they need it most. … We do what we can to support you. “
The provincial government estimates that someone whose electricity costs an average of $ 200 a month would get a one-time credit of around $ 130. Details of the plan will be left at the PUB.
Deferred payments allowed
Ball said the credit would have a “significant impact” on customers’ July bills.
Businesses and residential customers will also be able to defer payments, with up to $ 2.5 million in interest forgiven on overdue accounts. Customers will have to make agreed monthly payments to their account, and there will be financial assistance for 15 months, starting June 1.
Coady said customers can renegotiate their invoices and defer payments, with the province taking the interest tab.
“You can talk to a customer service agent and he will make accommodations, but you have to keep making a version of a monthly payment,” Coady
“The interest that can be accumulated will be paid by the provincial government. So if you’re a business, a person, and you’re having trouble and can’t do what I would say is your normal payment, call your utility, make some arrangements. ”
The Labrador interconnected system is not affected by the price of oil, but these customers can take advantage of interest relief.
Relief policies already in place during the pandemic, such as not disconnecting customers and offering options for more flexible bill payments, will continue.
Credit is not enough to support customers: PCs
While Ball has said his government is doing what it can to help taxpayers, the opposition does not believe the announcement does enough to support those who need it.
Tony Wakeham, the Progressive Conservative MHA of Stephenville-Port au Port, said in a statement Thursday that the credit was just making them money and that Newfoundland Power would benefit.
“The Liberal government wants taxpayers to believe they are benefiting from lower electricity rates, but in reality, customers would have been entitled to receive the value of this credit anyway over a 12-month period. In addition, by offering one-time credit, Newfoundland Power will also be able to collect administrative fees, thereby increasing revenues, “Wakeham said in the release.
“People and businesses in this province are struggling to pay their utility bills, and the Liberal government should help them by putting extra money in their pockets, not recycling an existing program for the benefit of a big company.”
Wakeham called on the government to order the PUB to lower Newfoundland Power’s guaranteed rate of return to reimburse customers in cash and Newfoundland Power to waive its fees.
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