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Alberta NDP demanding support for high energy bills

Rachel Notley responded to Premier Jason Kenney's COVID-19 predictions in a livestream Tuesday evening (Credit: Livestream Tuesday, April 7)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Alberta’s Opposition is pointing the finger at the UCP government for the sharp rise in energy bills many families are facing and are calling for action.

NDP leader Rachel Notley is calling for the government to provide relief for those experiencing high utility and energy bills, particularly those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

“There are a number of factors that are contributing to this problem,” Notley said. “I think there is one agency that can fix it and that’s the government. They have the tools at their disposal to introduce relief for Alberta families.”

While Notley acknowledged these price hikes are not entirely the fault of the UCP, they did get rid of the energy rate cap imposed when she was in power.

She added natural gas prices haven’t been this high since June 2014.

“Jason Kenney removed that cap in late 2019. Average electricity prices have exceeded that cap every month this year so far. The highest average price was reported by Epcor in February.”

Notley said the government should give direct consumer relief to about two-thirds of Alberta families, reinstate the regulated rate cap and return the utility payment deferral program offered during the first wave of the pandemic.

She added Alberta families can not bear more expenses especially as a recent poll showed the province has the second-highest unemployment rate in the country.

A statement provided by Associate Minister of Oil and Gas Dale Nally said the province is committed to ensuring utility costs remain affordable.

“In particular, we continue to look at various aspects of our electricity system to increase efficiency and better manage costs. In addition, the government has asked utility companies to be as flexible as possible in their payment arrangements,” the statement read. “In Alberta, consumers have choice in how they pay for their power and natural gas, with options of fixed-rate, floating or regulated rate utility plans. The Utilities Consumer Advocate has tools available to help Albertans choose a plan that’s right for them, and the UCA can also help consumers work out payment arrangements with their service providers, if needed. Please note, we cannot comment on the specifics of individual consumer bills.”

The statement goes on to say the NDP is responsible for higher energy costs, such as through a $1.5 billion Balancing Pool loss, “unnecessary” subsidies for green energy, and the carbon tax.