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The NB Power head office in Fredericton. Image: Submitted/NB Power

NB Power granted interim rate hike

By Brad Perry Mar 15, 2024 | 2:20 PM

New Brunswickers will see their power bills rise in the coming weeks, but the exact increase is not yet known.

An interim rate increase request by NB Power was granted by the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board (NBEUB) on Friday.

Dominique Couture, a spokesperson for the utility, said the increase is expected to take effect April 1, but the specific impact on customers will not be known right away.

“Before any new rates go into effect, NB Power will reach out to all our customers to let them know how they will be affected,” Couture said in an email.

NB Power had applied to the provincial regulator for a 9.8 per cent increase to take effect on April 1. However, with the hearing not scheduled until mid-May and a decision not expected until at least July, the utility requested an interim rate hike.

“Our revenue projections assume that the new rate will start on April 1, which is the normal course of business,” president and CEO Lori Clark said in a recent statement.

“This is why we’ve filed asking the EUB to grant an interim rate increase for April 1, to avoid revenue shortfall, which could put further pressure on our debt situation and lead to more tough choices and could impact our ability to properly run the business.”

Couture said NB Power will review the board’s decision and adjust its Rate Schedules and Policies Manual, which outlines all increases by customer class, for EUB approval.

NB Power had to delay its initial rate application in October after the province extended its 80/20 debt-equity target from 2027 to 2029.

Because of the extension, utility officials had to go back and crunch the numbers in its rate application, leading to a weeks-long delay.

The Crown corporation has said that if the board later issues a different decision, customers’ bills will be adjusted to reflect the difference.

Meanwhile, Couture said the utility expects a decision on its Variance Account Recovery application early next week.

NB Power requested a three per cent increase over 12 months — in addition to the 9.8 per cent rate hike — to help cover higher-than-expected costs, primarily due to an unplanned outage at Point Lepreau.