Question Period (12.05.2012)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, my constituents with monthly power bills of $250 will face proposed rate increases, bills of basically $350 a month in 2017 under Muskrat Falls. We have seen fairly stable rates for years, regulated by the Public Utilities Board, yet government's loan guarantee is contingent on removing the PUB from regulating electricity rates.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Finance: Does he expect low- to middle-income families seeing their electricity bills go up this much over five short years will still have the ability to pay?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I would recommend to the member opposite that he have a look at the paper released called Electricity Rates Forecasting.

Now, we can do one of two things. One, we can continue to burn oil, and rates are going to go up anyway. They are going to go higher, and we can send $6 billion, Mr. Speaker, to offshore oil companies, or we can take that $6 billion, Mr. Speaker, we can stabilize rates in this Province for the ratepayer. We can use that $6 billion to produce a revenue generating asset where the water will run down the Churchill River for a hundred years, Mr. Speaker, and there will be revenues for our children.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MITCHELMORE: Mr. Speaker, this project is not affordable on the current electricity prices unless the rates go up a lot. Paying high rates for electricity harms the consumer and small business, and stagnates economic development. If people in five years see a jump in their power bills that takes $100 a month out of their pockets, that is $100 that cannot be spent at a restaurant, at a gas station or a grocery store. This has economic implications.

I ask the Minister of Finance: Has the Province fully considered the social and economic implications of removing the rate stabilization formula by raising rates to the proposed 15.3 cents per kilowatt hour in just five years?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The cost of producing a kilowatt of energy at Holyrood today is 18.5 cents, Mr. Speaker, going up to 22 cents in 2017. Mr. Speaker, I do not know where the member has been, but rates went up $45 per month between 2000 and 2011, they are going up another $30 per month between 2011 and 2016. They have gone up $75 a month, Mr. Speaker, for the average ratepayer since 2000, and that has nothing to do with Muskrat Falls.

With Muskrat Falls, Mr. Speaker, the increase in rates will be half of what it will be without Muskrat Falls. So, I fail to see the logic in the NDP saying that it is going up, Mr. Speaker. I do not get it.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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