Call back the house

Op­po­si­tion Leader Jamie Fox wants emer­gency ses­sion of the leg­is­la­ture

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - HOT ONLINE - BY TERESA WRIGHT twright@the­ Twit­

Op­po­si­tion Leader Jamie Fox is call­ing for an emer­gency ses­sion of the leg­is­la­ture to de­bate the im­pact of hik­ing elec­tric­ity rates in P.E.I. at a time pro­pos­als are be­ing floated to raise the HST and add new tolls to the high­way that leads to the Is­land.

Fox called the prov­ince’s new agree­ment with Mar­itime Elec­tric that pro­poses to in­crease power rates by 6.9 per cent over the next three years “ridicu­lous.”

“Is­lan­ders are al­ready pay­ing the high­est elec­tric­ity rates in the coun­try,” Fox said.

“Is­lan­ders don’t have any more money, but yet we’re try­ing to get blood from a stone.”

On Fri­day, a new gen­eral rate agree­ment be­tween the P.E.I govern­ment and Mar­itime Elec­tric was sub­mit­ted to the Is­land Reg­u­la­tory and Ap­peals Com­mis­sion for ap­proval.

It in­cludes an an­nual 2.3 per cent in­crease in power rates for the next three years and can­cels plans to build a new $68-mil­lion com­bus­tion tur­bine gen­er­a­tor.

But Fox is con­cerned this rate in­crease is com­ing at the same time the premier of Nova Sco­tia is propos­ing a re­gional HST of 15 per cent, which would mean an in­crease for P.E.I.’s HST of one per cent.

Fox is also con­cerned about the fi­nan­cial reper­cus­sions of a pro­posal to in­tro­duce new tolls to the high­way in Au­lac, N.B.

The new power agree­ment in P.E.I. locks Is­land ratepay­ers into an­nual in­creases while new taxes and tolls could soon hit Is­lan­ders in their pock­et­books, Fox said.

“It shows me the premier is not con­cerned with what Is­lan­ders have to pay,” he said.

“If we’re look­ing at pos­si­ble tolls, a pos­si­ble HST hike, now in­creased power rates, locked-in se­cret deals – I think the house should be re­called. Bring the house in and let’s put th­ese is­sues on the ta­ble right now.”

But Green Leader Peter Be­van-Baker says he wel­comes much of the news in­cluded in this new rate agree­ment, no­tably the can­cel­la­tion of plans for the new CT4 gen­er­a­tor.

“It was clear to me any sort of pro­gres­sive, for­ward-think­ing en­ergy pol­icy for the Is­land couldn’t re­ally in­clude build­ing a new diesel-pow­ered gen­er­a­tor. That’s re­ally so back­ward think­ing,” Be­van-Baker said.

“I’m re­ally de­lighted that’s been shelved.”

He also wel­comed news the prov­ince is look­ing to adopt a more di­verse en­ergy sup­ply sys­tem and that en­ergy con­ser­va­tion will be a key part of the prov­ince’s up­com­ing en­ergy strat­egy.

“Ba­si­cally, the Lib­eral party is adopt­ing a Green party en­ergy pol­icy, and I’m de­lighted to see that.”

Be­van-Baker did say he was dis­ap­pointed a pro­posed change to the se­cond block for res­i­den­tial rates is be­ing de­ferred un­til 2019.

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