Albertans will get some protection against rising electricity prices | PKBNEWS

Credit card bills aren’t the only thing Albertans will see high numbers on in the new year.

According to figures released by the Alberta Utilities Corporation, electricity prices are expected to jump next month.

Regulated Rate Option (RRO) prices for utilities like Enmax, Epcor and Direct Energy range from about 27 to 29.5 cents per kilowatt hour, up five cents from December prices. In January 2022, these prices hovered around 16 cents per kWh.

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On Wednesday, the province released details of its electricity price protection plan, placing a temporary price cap of 13.5 cents per kWh for January.

Any cost above this ceiling price will have to be reimbursed over a period of 21 months between April 2023 and December 2024.

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“We will protect consumers on the regulated electricity rate from price spikes in January, February and March 2023,” Affordability and Utilities Minister Matt Jones said in a statement.

“Customers will not be charged any fares above 13.5 cents during this time, even if AUC-approved fares are higher.”

Jones said there were about 800,000 customers on RRO rates, “and we’re protecting them from price spikes.”

Select power bills will also receive $75 bill rebates for January and February. These amounts were increased as part of the affordability action plan announced in early December. Electricity bill rebates have been extended through April 2023, with $25 rebates coming in March and April of next year.

Jones said that brings the total electricity rebates to $500 since July.

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The two programs designed to address affordability are only for eligible households.

The Alberta government has said it will support more than 1.9 million homes, families and small businesses, but some critics have raised issues with the programs, saying they don’t apply condominiums, seniors buildings and apartments on a single meter.

The opposition energy critic said the government was not doing enough to help tackle an affordability crisis, saying electricity prices “keep rising – it’s not sustainable.”

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“Essentially, the UCP tried to push back some of the amount Albertans owe for electricity after the next election,” Calgary-Mountain View MLA Kathleen Ganley said Friday. “It’s about politics, it’s not about helping families.

“It’s half-baked solutions and band-aids and a prayer for lower prices, nothing more.”

Blake Shaffer, assistant professor at the University of Calgary and former energy trader, offered advice to electricity customers who still benefit from an RRO – the default option that is vulnerable to price fluctuations.

“Despite the government cap, it’s always better to go fixed (rate contract)”, Shaffer posted on Twitter. “And given that the cost of the cap will be borne by RRO customers from April 2023 to December 2024, I expect a continued exodus from RRO and a spiraling deferral endorsement rate.”

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Direct Energy, Enmax and Epcor all have fixed electricity rate contracts available below what the RRO was in January 2022.

More natural gas discounts

The natural gas rebate will again not be triggered for the fourth month in a row.

On Wednesday, the province said the highest monthly natural gas default rate for January 2023 would be $6.446 per gigajoule, just below the trigger rate of $6.50. The rebate would cover any costs above the trigger rate for eligible households.

The natural gas rebate program was scheduled to run for six months, between October 2022 and March 2023.

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