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Liberals make rate mitigation pitch ahead of election

Premier Dwight Ball speaks at an announcement about the government’s plan to deal with mitigation of electricity rates at Confederation Building Monday morning.
Premier Dwight Ball speaks at an announcement about the government’s plan to deal with mitigation of electricity rates at Confederation Building Monday morning. - Joe Gibbons

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball says the province needs $725 million a year to deal with rate mitigation, and he says they’ve found a way to get there. 

A number of the measures are subject to change, either through general market fluctuation or by the Public Utilities Board final report on rate mitigation due in 2020, but for now, here’s how the Liberals plan to address rising electricity rates. 

The biggest piece of the puzzle right now is a $200-million ask of the federal government for rate mitigation. The money is budgeted in the Liberal plan, but is not committed from Ottawa just yet. Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau has committed to working with the province on rate mitigation, but the request is the first indication of the potential scale of the federal ask. 

The Liberals say $178 million can come from net operational savings with Holyrood, largely through savings from fuel costs and inflation impacts. There’s still a chance Holyrood will stay operational (in a much-reduced capacity) once Muskrat Falls comes online and the estimate only factors in total decommissioning. 

The Liberals say $49.1 million in additional revenue can come from the sale of surplus energy to other markets. That number is, again, an estimate, but department officials say they believe it’s an achievable target. 

In Budget 2016, the Liberals put aside $200 million for rate mitigation. That number will continue to be applied to the rate mitigation figure annually. 

The Liberals also say they’ll cut $20 million from the operations of Nalcor, through removal of redundant positions and reductions in overall salaries. 

Once Muskrat Falls comes online, operation and maintenance costs can come down, according to the Liberals, to the tune of $12 million a year. The Liberals say operational costs went from $34 million at sanction to $109 million today, so they commit to a 15 per cent decrease on that budget line. 

Isolated diesel systems being phased out and replaced with greener options (wind, solar power, etc.) will result in $7.4 million in savings, according to government. 

Electrification of major government assets is another estimate, which government says can hit $15 million in savings a year. Department officials say that’s a conservative estimate, but did not provide a set estimate for how much switching big government buildings from oil to electricity will cost - but did say the goal is achievable. 

The Liberals say they will attract new large-scale customers to the province, which they say will gain $35 million a year for the province. 

The Liberals say another $8.7 million will come from federal credits for greenhouse gas reductions through the shut down of Holyrood. 

More to come 

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