Alberta introduces bill for electricity bill rebates, possible natural gas rebates

·2 min read

EDMONTON — The Alberta government has introduced legislation that would fulfil a promise to provide $150 in electricity rebates.

Dale Nally, associate minister of natural gas and electricity, says the hope is to have the savings distributed by the summer.

Nally says the bill, if passed, would also allow the government to provide rebates on high natural gas bills.

He says the government will monitor natural gas prices and details will be fleshed out in the regulations underlying the bill.

Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservatives included natural gas rebates in the recent budget, but said they would not start until the fall and would be tied to prices exceeding $6.50 a gigajoule.

Natural gas prices have hit or exceeded that benchmark now, and Kenney said this week his government was looking at bringing in that rebate earlier.

The province has temporarily reduced its portion of the gasoline tax at the gas pumps to help people facing higher prices across the board due to global energy demand and distribution bottlenecks.

Nally said the electricity refund has many moving parts.

“The power rebate will be largely dependent on how long it takes the utility retailers to be able to adjust their billing systems,” Nally said Wednesday before introducing the legislation in the house.

“We are encouraging the retailers to get this onto people’s bills as soon as possible.

“I’m hopeful that will be June. For some retailers, it may go into July.”

The power rebates are to be $50 a month over the first three months of this year and are expected to cover almost two million residences, farms and small businesses.

The total projected cost for the rebates is $280 million.

On the natural gas rebate, Nally said it was designed to respond to possible price spikes in the upcoming winter months, but he added he recognizes prices of late have already hit the benchmark.

“We haven’t written the regulation for (those rebates) yet, but as we write the regulation, I’ll be able to provide more information on those time frames."

The Opposition NDP has criticized the natural gas rebate as a shell game with a trigger price unlikely to ever be reached.

Alberta had a natural gas rebate program in the early 2000s. It ended in 2009.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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