Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut October 25, 2016 - 11:45 am

Lower fuel prices bring relief to Nunavut power customers

QEC’s bulk fuel costs fall 20 per cent this year

JIM BELL
The Qulliq Energy Corp. has applied for permission to give customers a monthly rate refund worth 5.26 cents per kilowatt hour. The Utility Rates Review Council has granted the QEC permission to start applying the refund to monthly power bills as of this past Oct. 1. (FILE PHOTO)
The Qulliq Energy Corp. has applied for permission to give customers a monthly rate refund worth 5.26 cents per kilowatt hour. The Utility Rates Review Council has granted the QEC permission to start applying the refund to monthly power bills as of this past Oct. 1. (FILE PHOTO)

Thanks to plummeting bulk fuel prices, businesses and homeowners will see another refund applied to their monthly power bills between now and March 31, 2017.

That’s because the Qulliq Energy Corp. paid about 20 per cent less in 2016 for bulk fuel compared with what it spent in 2015, the QEC president, Bruno Pereira, said in a letter.

The latest refund, given to customers through an accounting device called a fuel stabilization rate rider, is worth 5.26 cents per kilowatt hour.

For a non-government residential homeowner who uses 700 kilowatt hours each month, that would amount to power bills that are about $38.62 per month lower than normal, a QEC question and answer document said.

The refund rate rider does not affect social housing tenants, who already pay a subsidized low rate of six cents per kilowatt hour.

Right now, the rate refund is still a proposal to the Utility Rates Review Council, which must study the QEC’s application and report back to the minister responsible, Johnny Mike.

But, pending a final decision, the URRC has already authorized an interim refund of 5.26 cents per kilowatt hour that kicked in Oct. 1.

That offers a bigger break to customers than the QEC’s last rate rider refund, worth 3.07 cents a kilowatt hour, which started April 1, 2016 and expired this past Sept. 30.

An earlier refund, worth 1.8 cents per kilowatt hour, ran from Nov. 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016.

The QEC maintains a special pot of money called the Fuel Stabilization Rate Fund, to protect themselves from fluctuating fuel prices.

When the balance in that fund either exceeds or falls short of a $1 million threshold, the QEC may apply for a rate rider.

If the fund needs more money, the QEC asks for a surcharge to be slapped onto monthly power bills.

But if the fund gets too large, the QEC may apply for permission to grant a monthly refund.

Before global fuel prices began to fall in 2014 and 2015, the QEC had hammered customers with a staggering series of rate hikes and rate rider surcharges, including an 18.88 per cent power rate increase granted in 2011.

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