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

Northern Pen - - EDITORIAL -

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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