Albertans will soon see an extra fee listed on their utility bills.

During the first three months of the pandemic, the provincial government set up the utility payment deferral program to help ease people's financial burden as life shut down and people found themselves unable to afford their bills.

More than 350,000 customers, representing 13 per cent of the natural gas and electricity consumer base, deferred utility payments through the program. The program ended in mid-June last year; however, some Albertans never paid their bills.
 
In order to pay back the debts owed on the utilities, a small fee will be collected on every utility bill to settle the debts.

"This fall, Alberta utility rate payers will see a small and temporary 'Utility Deferral Adjustment' rate rider on their electricity and natural gas bills. Average household consumers are expected to be charged a fraction of a dollar on electricity and natural gas bills for a few months," explained Dale Nally, MLA for Morinville-St. Albert and associate minister of natural gas and electricity.
 
Nally's office told MIX 107 that it's up to the Alberta Utility Commission to determine the cost of the repayment on people's bills. It is estimated the fee on electricity bills will hover around nine cents for electricity and 40 cents for natural gas for homeowners. It's expected to take four to six months to repay the debt.
 
"This small, temporary rate rider ensures that the debt will be repaid in the most transparent and straightforward manner."
 
The deferral program was open to residences, farms, and small businesses. This included electricity consumers, who consume less than 250,000-kilowatt-hours of electricity per year and natural gas consumers, who consume less than 2,500 gigajoules per year.
 
No Albertan was cut off from these services or saw their services reduced while the program was in place.