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Letter: When does electricity become unaffordable to all in N.L.?

['WS-xx-letter to the editor']
['WS-xx-letter to the editor']

I am writing to express my concerns over NL Hydro’s proposed rate increases to electricity rates soon to be heard before the Public Utilities Board this coming October.

In July of this year, application was made for a rate increase that would see electric rate increase of 13 per cent over the next two years.

While NL Hydro has a reported profit of $138 million over the fiscal year, again we see NL Hydro asking for an increase in rates to cover added future expenses to cover costs to their infrastructure. What bothers me in this application is the fact that NL Hydro did nothing to prevent faults in our electrical system in the past as expressed in both Liberty Consulting reports since the occurrence of the “DarkNL” events of our recent past.

When does a product or commodity become so highly priced that it becomes unaffordable, and how does a commodity like electricity get priced fairly when we see such neglect as our electrical system saw, the proof being shown in the Liberty Consulting reports? It was the risk that NL Hydro took in the first place that saw them coming back to the PUB in the first place.

To what extent do we have to pay for a “cost of doing business” when the crown corporation already shows a positive bottom line in spite of the neglect that we now have to pay for?

In the light of increasing costs to consumers as a result of the failing Muskrat Falls project, how far can we go until the crown corporation hits the wall known as the “law of diminishing returns”?

In my house, electricity costs are already at their zenith with the commodity fast outpacing the cost of living numbers. In no way can any consumer justify an increase to rates outside of core inflation numbers under normal conditions, but neglect is not covered. Heads should have rolled.

What NL Hydro has reaped in the neglect of regular scheduled maintenance in the Liberty report is now coming home to roost for the corporation as well as consumers. What they have sown is a huge discontent that requires consumers to simply say “No!” to any proposed increases to rates. We need the Public Utilities Board to side with consumers on this one to send the message to all that we simply can’t afford what you are asking. That comes at the detriment to NL Hydro’s bottom line which belongs to the taxpayers in the first place.

NL Hydro should withdraw its application for a rate increase and absorb it as a “cost of doing business” in the first place.

To this end, I am asking all consumers to write to the Public Utilities Board expressing dissatisfaction with the proposed increase, and also a note of support to Dennis Browne who is representing consumers’ views in this fight.

Now, more than ever, consumers and business have to be heard!

  

George Murphy

Consumer Group for Fair Gas Prices

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