The Government of Saskatchewan has accepted the Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel's recommendation to increase SaskPower's rates for the first time since 2018.
The Crown electrical utility's rates will increase four per cent this fall and another four per cent in 2023.
The new rates will result in an average increase of approximately $5 on residential customers' bills starting on September 1 of this year, and an additional $5 on April 1, 2023.
"The decision to increase rates is not taken lightly and came after a thorough review by the independent Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel," said Don Morgan, Minister Responsible for SaskPower.
"World events have caused a significant rise in the price of natural gas, and with 42 per cent of Saskatchewan's electricity coming from natural gas-fueled facilities, SaskPower requires additional revenue to maintain reliable operations."
Natural gas is the largest generation source in SaskPower's fleet. As federal regulations require the elimination of conventional coal generation in Canada by 2030, SaskPower's reliance on natural gas generation is expected to grow.
According to a media release from the Province of Saskatchewan, Fuel and Purchased Power expense increases are largely driven by increased natural gas prices.
SaskPower's fuel and purchased power expense is expected to increase from $715 million in 2020-21 to $1.069 billion in 2023-24. This represents a 50% increase in fuel and purchased power expense over three years.
"In the four years since our last increase, SaskPower has worked to find internal efficiencies, but at this time we require additional funding to continue to provide reliable and sustainable power," SaskPower President & CEO Rupen Pandya said. "We will continue to be transparent about our rate strategy and the need for regular, moderate increases."
The approved application also includes plans for rate rebalancing and a shift in rate design methodology.
The change is revenue neutral to SaskPower and will only affect customers who pay separate demand and energy charges. Residential customers and the majority of farm and small commercial customers will be unaffected.
Bailey Sutherland, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald