Yukon Energy announces rate hike 3 days after it took effect

Yukoners may want to dial back their Christmas lights this season after Yukon Energy announced a pair of rate hikes that will see power costs rise nearly 12 per cent.

The increases mean the average residential power bill will rise nearly $20 per month. The average monthly bill for commercial customers will go up $36 per month.

Yukon Energy president Andrew Hall said the increases are needed to cover inflation and to pay for new equipment and infrastructure, including an LNG backup generator and major repairs at the Aishihik hydro dam.

"We certainly appreciate that it can create some hardship for some of our-low income customers in particular," Hall said. "But I think we have to run a business like everyone else, and unfortunately, costs do go up."

Hall said the energy corporation and the Yukon government both have programs designed to help people reduce their energy consumption and cut costs.

There are two rate increases. One, a 4.7 per cent increase, is a permanent increase to rates that was originally filed in 2017. The other, a 7.1 per cent, will last until November, 2021.

Philippe Morin/CBC

The second rate increase is designed to allow Yukon Energy to recover revenue it lost because the permanent increase is 17 months late. That delay was due, in large part, to a legal dispute between the utility and the Yukon Utilities Board over cost recovery policies.

Both increases were approved by the Yukon Utilities Board in late November. The rate increases took effect Dec. 1. 

Hall said the delay in releasing information was partly due to the time required to convert the board's complicated technical decision into plain language for the public.