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New fee for Alberta utility bills to cover costs from pandemic deferral program

Electricity bills in Germany are among the highest in Europe. (Heath Oldham / Electricity bills in Germany are among the highest in Europe. (Heath Oldham /

Albertans will notice an extra charge on their natural gas and electricity bills this fall.

The fee is being charged because of electricity and gas bill payments that were deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic through the Utility Payment Deferral Program.

The program allowed customers who used less than 250,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year to defer their bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. Residential, farm, and small commercial customers who utilized the program had until June 18, 2021 to pay utility providers what they owed.

In a media release sent Friday, Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity Dale Nally revealed that while most customers settled their outstanding balances some have not.

Due to legislation passed in May 2020, all Albertans are on the hook.

“The initial economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many Albertans being unable to pay their electricity bills and natural gas bills,” Nally said.

According to the associate minister, the Utility Payment Deferral Program “supported hundreds of thousands of Albertans.”

“While retailers worked flexibly and compassionately with customers who had outstanding deferral balances, a small portion of those debts were never settled.

“This fall, Alberta utility rate payers will see a small and temporary ‘Utility Deferral Adjustment’ rate rider on their electricity and natural gas bills,” Nally added.

The province expects the average household to pay less than a dollar extra each month. How many months the fee will be charged is not known at this time, Nally said.

“This small, temporary rate rider ensures that the debt will be repaid in the most transparent and straightforward manner,” he added.

NDP energy critic Kathleen Ganley said in a statement that what started as a program to help Albertans affected by the pandemic is now “downloading” further costs onto utility payers and will hurt the province’s recovery.

“The UCP government reverted to a system that saw wild price spikes and failed to present Albertans with a solid plan to keep costs under control,” Ganley said. “As a result of these decisions, Albertans are faced with cost increases.

“Albertans deserve stable and affordable electricity, not unpredictable punishing spikes,” Ganley added. “The UCP needs to cover the costs of the utility deferral program and bring back the price cap introduced by our government.” Top Stories

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