Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dangerous words: Redford changes her tune on electricity after days of saying there is no problem.

Electricity prices have skyrocketed in Alberta over the last 2 months and it has not gone unnoticed. In the Alberta legislature Premier Redford has been asked for days if her government would do something and for days she has repeated her standard answer: That Alberta has some of the lowest rates in the country, which is not at all true, and that there is no problem because consumers can just sign up to one of the many fixed rate programs offered.

Some quotes from Redford's answers: (highlighting mine)

"What we know is that, as the Minister of Energy has
said, with a deregulated market we are able to provide some of the
lowest cost electricity in the country
, Mr. Speaker.

"Mr. Speaker. What we know is that while there are a number
of companies that provide options, the customers only have to
make one call, and that's to the Utilities Consumer Advocate, to
get the information that they need

These same talking points were also repeated by Ted Morton, Minister of Energy.

"Mr. Speaker, we're quite proud of the fact that we
give residential consumers this choice
. It's not very complicated.
Albertans every day make a choice when they go to borrow
money for a mortgage. Do they want a fixed rate, do they want a
variable rate, or do they want some combination? It's exactly the
same situation with respect to electricity, and Albertans appreciate
that choice

"I will say this very, very slowly for the benefit of the
Leader of the Opposition. There are 11 different providers, all of
them having a contract at 8 to 9 cents which can be cancelled in a
30- to 45-day period if you don't like it

So there is NO problem. All is well and in fact they said that having the government involved would not be a good thing.

Redford: "Mr. Speaker, dangerous words were government
involvement. Dangerous words were presuming that the solution
to this is for government to fix the problem

Morton: "Mr. Speaker, the members opposite always seem to
think the solution is more government involvement; we don't
think so
. The facts speak for themselves.

But yesterday this non problem has seemed to turn into a problem, at least in terms of this being an election issue, and now it demands that the government do something.

"The Premier has ordered that an independent panel review the regulated variable rate option to consider the ability to reduce volatility and costs. The Premier will also direct the Utilities Consumer Advocate to represent consumers' interests to the independent panel. The advocate's mandate in this process is to ensure the costs associated with electricity are just and reasonable for consumers."

So some action may be required after all in spite of what both the Premier and Morton have been saying for days on the issue and even odder that it will include those dangerous words of government involvement.

 But before anyone gets their hopes up I have to remind you that like that "discussion on taxes" or the judicial, or maybe not judicial, inquiry into healthcare, that will be taking place after the election when it will be a matter us accepting whatever it is the government intends to do with no recourse.

So why are they doing it now? Simple, they are scared and are trying to defuse a potentially damaging election issue by pretending to do something now when they really are not doing anything and hope to ride it out hoping the usual PC smoke and mirrors again fool Albertans into voting for them.

Forming a task force to study, what they said was not a problem, is not action, it is pure fluff to appease the masses.  To borrow the words of Ted Morton, the facts speak for themselves.

Related (how well our PC government looks after the consumer) Trans Alta fined $370,000 for manipulating  power market.  BTW: Trans Alta made an estimated $5.5 million from gaming the system.

Can someone explain to me how a $5 million dollar profit (after paying the pittance of a fine) deters them or anyone else from doing it again, and again, and....?



maryT said...

When you drive around town at night, or early evening, it is amazing how many homes have no lights on in more than one room, and there are few if any light on outside.
Everyone is complaining they power bill was up by at least 100.00 from December.
WRA is the way to vote in the coming election.
Got another call today from a person claiming to be from a national polling firm, asking who I would vote for if election was tomorrow. Googled the number and it is a non polling number and comments under that number have nothing to do with polling.

RJ65 said...

My problem is not with the energy rate so much as it is with the fixed cost admin, transmission and other service charges regardless of how much power you use.

Blame Crash said...

And here I though that they wouldn't be doing the “Full McQuinty” until after the election. I guess they got a little over enthusiastic. I love it when they inadvertently expose their liberal proclivities.

Anonymous said...

My smallish bachelor pad is running me 40-60 a month. Excepting the recent billing where the power rate spiked, I was paying very close to half of my bill in fees, surcharges, administrative levies, taxes, fees for the levies, surcharges for the fees, and taxes ATOP IT ALL.

Does it REALLY cost $20 to $30 a month to read my one meter of two dozen, all at one go, at the same room, in the same building?? C'mon!

Anonymous said...

Transalta pays a $1.16 dividend, payable quarterly. Buy shares and offset your power bills. The shares cost $21.04 on Friday. A 100 share block is $2104 and will pay you $116 annually, giving you a yeild of 5.5%.

That's higher than your bank pays you interest on the same amount, sitting in your bank account.

If you don't like them, buy Northland Power. They are $17.59 and pay monthly dividends totaling $1.08 per share a year. That's a yeild of 6.1%

I get free SHAW Cable, because I own enough shares that pay my cable bills in dividends. Start young.

Do it in your tax free savings account and you won't pay tax on your dividends, even if you use them to pay your bills.

Anonymous said...

Have to ask - why are power rates going up? Price of coal rising?

You know, I can't find a thing on what a tonne of coal produced in Alberta is priced at this week or last year. Judging by the price of natural gas - falling from $4.00 to $2.50 per gig over the last 6-8 months, I'd bet that prices for coal aren't changed all that much, if at all.

So, since about 74% of Alberta's electricity is from coal, what gives? My ENMAX bill jumped 12.8% on just the electricity cost from Dec 13 to Jan 12 2012, from 13.5 to 15.2 cents a kWh.

The previous bill (Nov to Dec 2011) has a whopping hike of 47.7% from 9.1 cents a kWh to 13.5 cents. Some of the "other" charges were slightly higher or lower and seem to fit an effort to guaranteeing a return to someone, 'cause they don't make any sense at all to me.

For instance "distribution & transmission" charges were lower for the Jan bill than in Dec, yet both months are 30 days billed. Why would transmission be cheaper on a higher priced same batch of electrons the next month?

Besides, I believe ENMAX uses gas fired generation, so the fuel is cheaper on the spot market, unless they get a flat rate? My power bill should be lower, or the same then.