High power bills have been a big issue for many Albertans over the last year.
Associate minister of natural gas and electricity Dale Nally said his office has been getting a lot of questions related to the increasing power charges and wanted to take the time to answer some of the ones he sees the most.
One of the biggest questions being asked is why the bills are going up. Nally explained there are two parts to an electricity bill; the energy portion makes up about 40 per cent of it.
"We have an open and free market for electricity so price is a factor of supply and demand. And we have seen demand rising. In fact, in the last 12 months, we've actually broken demand records twice and this is having an upward push on prices."
The other 60 per cent is made of up the fees that come with getting electricity. Nally said the government previously made a large investment into transmission infrastructure which brought up some of those costs.
"In 2021, we spent $0 on transmission, so we're bringing fiscal restraint back to the electricity grid and it will bring prices down long term. Unfortunately, Albertans are going to have a hangover on their electricity bill."
In regards to the future of power bills, Nally claimed it is difficult to predict if the energy prices will go up or down, but added they are trying to figure out ways to decrease Albertans' bills.
One of these ways is their plan to bring forward electricity modernization legislation that will examine how to modernize the grid and provide better value for Albertans. They also want to take steps that will encourage more competition to help lower the prices and bring in energy storage to help them deal with the intermittency of renewable energy.
For people wondering what to do when struggling to make their monthly payments, Nally recommends contacting their retailer.
"I've had conversations with the presidents of these major utilities and they have indicated to me that there is zero appetite and zero desire to want to cut people off. So if someone is experiencing this utility insecurity, contact your retailer, they will work with you to come up with payment plans that will allow you to keep the lights on."
Lastly, he said the government is working on putting legislation forward that will provide short-term relief for Albertans. The plan is to add $150 of credit that will be put on everyone's electricity bills.