A fight over rate hikes

Derek Montague
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MP Yvonne Jones wants Labrador residents to help oppose NL Hydro proposal

Labrador MP Yvonne Jones (left) will be acting as an intervener when the Public Utilities Board holds a hearing in July, concerning NL Hydro’s proposed rate increases for Labrador. Jones said the increases are not justified, because of the money that Labrador electricity produces for the province.

Labrador MP Yvonne Jones is encouraging residents to be vocal in opposing Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro’s proposed rate increase for Labrador.

“We’re asking Labradorians to sign a petition,” said Jones. “The more names that we can bring to the Public Utilities Board, opposing this … the better it’s going to be for us in our argument.”

Jones will be acting as an intervener at the Public Utilities Board hearing in July, where the proposal will be debated.

Back in 2013, NL Hydro proposed a full one-cent increase, from 3.9 cents per KWh to 4.9 cents for Labradorians who live in Labrador West and central Labrador, which accounts for 10,500 customers on the Labrador interconnected system.


The 2,600 customers who live on Labrador's coast, meanwhile, would see a price jump, 6.9 cents per kWh to 8.3 cents per kWh (with the Northern Strategic Plan credit applied).


During a public meeting, held in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on March 18, Jones stated that Labrador ratepayers should not receive an increase, because of the money that Labrador creates for the province.

Jones pointed out that NL Hydro makes millions of dollars through recalled power on the Upper Churchill, which is sold to Emera, in Nova Scotia.

She also noted that industrial power rates for Labrador’s mining industry would be going up significantly in 2015, creating millions more for the province.

“In Labrador, unlike anywhere else in the province, there’s revenue generated on other electrical users. One of those electrical users is the recall power on the Upper Churchill,” said Jones.

“Right now the mining industry in Labrador West … and any future mines … their power rates are going to go from a quarter cent to four to five cents (per kWh). That’s a huge increase.

“You do the math and, what that means, is an extra $100 to $120 million in profit (from mining) for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and the government of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Back in 2013, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro vice-president, Rob Henderson, told The Labradorian that the power company had invested $39 million into Labrador infrastructure in recent years. He said new rates were needed to reflect the increased cost of supplying power to the Big Land.

"Hydro has been investing in the Labrador system over the last several years. In particular, with the very active economy in Labrador ... so we need to make investments there to strengthen the system to maintain reliability," said Henderson.

"We have to adjust the rates to reflect the costs of supplying electricity there in Labrador."


According to Jones, the proposed increase will only generate an extra $6 million from Labrador ratepayers.

“It’s not a lot of money to them, but it’s a lot of money to us,” said Jones

Jones told the crowd that getting sympathy from people outside Labrador on this issue could be a challenge. Even if NL Hydro’s proposal is accepted, Labradorians will still have the lowest rates in the country.

But Jones also pointed out that the cost of living in Labrador is sky high, and many are barely scraping by.

“In Labrador, we’re already facing very high costs of living expenses, as it is,” said Jones.

“We’ve paid more in recent years than we’ve ever paid, for those (essential) services.”

Around 30 concerned residents showed up to Jones’ March 18 meeting. Many felt that Labradorians were being treated unfairly in NL Hydro’s proposal.

Local businessman Paul Snelgrove stated that it was unfair for NL Hydro to want more money from Labradorians, while its parent company, Nalcor, is developing Muskrat Falls next door.

Ever since Muskrat Falls began, he noted, the cost of living has gone up in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

“A lot of the costs of living in Labrador are caused by (Nalcor),” said Snelgrove. All of our housing costs are gone up. All of our property taxes are gone up because our (property) values have gone up.”

“All of those things were caused by Nalcor. Then again, on the backhand, they want us to pay more electricity rates. It makes no sense.”


Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Public Utilities Board, The Labradorian

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Happy Valley, Goose Bay Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Michael
    March 24, 2014 - 01:21

    I couldn't agree with Yvonne Jones more, she is completely right and I hope that the public will listen to her and sign that petition and be vocal about the rate increase, she is looking out for the best interest of the people. If those electric rates goes up it's going to cause the cost of other things to go up to. Yvonne Jones is trying to prevent all of this and she needs the backing of the public. Everything in general is too expensive as it is with some who struggle just for basic needs to exist. This would also hurt the economy.

  • John
    March 22, 2014 - 03:58

    How does this work? Do our tax dollars go into projects like Muskrat Falls? Then once it's operational a private company takes the reigns and charges the same people who financed the project rates that provide substantial revenue? Is that correct? If so, that's like paying someone to build you a house and then paying rent after it's done. Let's see an audit of the company. Where's the money going? Is the hike really necessary? The people of Labrador are letting them utilize their land and should be compensated fairly.