MKO Disappointed Manitoba Hydro Plans to Increase Rates for First Nations Customers
Today Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) sent a letter to Manitoba Premier Pallister indicating their dismay with Manitoba Hydro’s plans to increase hydro rates by 6.5 per cent for many First Nations customers resident on reserve on September 1, 2020.
In 2018, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) directed Manitoba Hydro to create a First Nations on Reserve Residential (FNORR) customer class and to freeze hydro rates charged to this customer class. Manitoba Hydro appealed this direction to the Manitoba Court of Appeal. In June 2020 the Court decided that the PUB could not create the FNORR.
Following the Court’s decision, Manitoba Hydro filed a letter with the PUB which stated that Manitoba Hydro planned to implement the Court’s decision by raising the rates charged to customers formerly in the FNORR. The PUB then held a brief written process. Today the PUB issued Board Order 100-20.
According to the Board Order, to comply with the Court of Appeal decision, Manitoba Hydro will increase the hydro rates of customers in the former FNORR by 6.5 per cent, effective September 1, 2020. This will amount in a monthly increase of about $15 for the household hydro bill of people living in most MKO First Nations.
“Increasing rates for hydro amidst a pandemic is unacceptable. I am concerned the increase may end up being even more than $15 a month given the fact that people are being told to stay home and maintain physical distance in response to the pandemic. Any increase will be a difficult burden for First Nations citizens. We absolutely do not want people to have to have to choose between purchasing food or turning the heat on in their homes.
“We are pleased that the Board Order states that Hydro cannot increase the rates for people living in the First Nations reliant on diesel power without a Diesel-Specific Rate Application and a Cost of Service Study. This is one of the things MKO called for and it is a direct result of our having advocated for this outcome in this process and the previous Hydro Rate Application.
“The Government of Manitoba must address these issues. I urge the province to develop a program to address energy poverty issues for residents living in Northern Manitoba.” said Grand Chief Settee.