NB Power seeks to delay rate increase until 2021
Fredericton, NB – Today, NB Power asked the Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) to render its decision on NB Power’s 2020/21 rate application and has further asked that this rate increase be delayed until March 31, 2021.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely difficult for many of our customers and we are taking action to address those challenges,” said Keith Cronkhite, President and CEO. “When we appeared before our regulator in early 2020, no one could have predicted the impact this global pandemic would have on our province and our customers.”
In March 2020, NB Power asked the EUB to delay its decision on the rate application in order to support customers during the pandemic. Since that time, the utility announced a $16 million net loss for 2019/20 as a result of instability of the financial markets at year’s end, driven mainly by results of the pandemic.
“While NB Power did suffer a financial loss in 2019/20 in spite of strong operating performance, we feel we are in a more stable financial position than we were at the end of March. We want to support our customers and our province as we move forward with pandemic recovery,” said Darren Murphy, Chief Financial Officer. “In order to support our customers during this challenging time, we took early action to reduce costs and will continue to find efficiencies with our continuous improvement initiative.”
NB Power is asking customers to reach out if they are struggling to pay bills so that a flexible payment option can be set up during this difficult time.
NB Power also asked the EUB to render its decision on the utility’s Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) capital project, which was also deferred in March 2020.
“We would like to continue the necessary work and planning needed to deliver the Advanced Metering Infrastructure for our customers, if we get approval from the regulator,” said Cronkhite. “The sooner smart meters are implemented; the sooner customers will realize the benefits.”
In its case before the EUB in early 2020, NB Power stated that the upgrade to smart meters would give customers access to their energy usage information through a secure online portal which will allow them to make informed decisions on usage, to set up bill alerts and start or stop service (disconnect/reconnect) with just a phone call. The utility also stated that the upgrade would enable more efficient power restoration once the system is fully deployed and integrated with the utility’s outage management system, because smart meters will send information to NB Power when the power is out, allowing for quicker restoration in many cases.
By order of the EUB, NB Power is required to file annually with the regulator by the first week of October a revenue requirement for the following fiscal year. This requirement applies even if NB Power does not intend to raise rates.
In its request to the EUB today, NB Power asked that the regulator delay NB Power’s requirement to file the 2021/22 rate application in October 2020 to a date no later than March 31, 2021 given the current state of the New Brunswick economy, uncertainties related to the pandemic and the challenges of compiling evidence at this time. In its motion to the regulator, NB Power acknowledged that filing the 2021/22 application later in the fiscal year would result in a delay in any rate increase request for 2021/22 until after April 1, 2021.
It is anticipated that the Energy and Utilities Board will respond to NB Power’s requests in the coming weeks.
MEDIA CONTACT: Marc Belliveau, communications, NB Power, 506-238-3273 or firstname.lastname@example.org