Premier Dwight Ball said that when he heard Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie speaking earlier this week about the need to address power rates in the province, including a special referral to the Public Utilities Board (PUB), he shook his head in amazement.
“I’ll tell you this: we will not allow rates to double in this province,” Ball said Thursday.
He couldn’t say where rates could actually stand as Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project costs are factored in.
How much is the provincial government both willing and able, in partnership with Nalcor Energy, to contribute to power rate mitigation? Will power rates be held at 18 cents per kilowatt hour? Could it be a different amount?
Asked when the Liberal government might be able to provide further details, Ball referred to work on the issue to date, including $210 million ordered set aside by Nalcor Energy for the purpose of early rate mitigation.
“We know there has to be more,” he said.
“Obviously we’ve got a number of people working on this right now. What I’ve asked all the officials to do is bring me as many options as you can,” he said.
But he shook his head at Ches Crosbie advising on power rates.
“I don’t need his advice on rate mitigation,” Ball said.
“For people to simply think that the PC party is going to come and pay for this, they won’t. They caused it. So we have a rate mitigation plan that we’re working on right now and that will be shared … and I do not need Ches Crosbie or any member of the PC party to tell me that this should go to the Public Utilities Board,” he said, referring to when the Muskrat Falls project was not provided a full PUB review under the former PC government.
At this point, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has proposed to begin factoring Muskrat Falls project costs into power rates beginning Jan. 1, 2019, to reduce the size of the rate jump ahead, to “smooth” the increase for individuals and businesses.
The proposal, now before the Public Utilities Board, includes reference to the provincial government’s rate mitigation plan, but both the written filing by N.L. Hydro and testimony has said the details on the government plan are not yet available to N.L. Hydro.