Quebec Standard

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Groups ask for a freeze on Hydro-Québec rates


Key takeaways: 

  • Hydro-Québec made earnings of $3.5B in 2021, coalition states.
  • The three institutions state Hydro-Québec made returns of $3.5 billion in 2021. 

A union of business and customer groups requests a freeze on Hydro-Québec electricity rates after the state-owned firm declared its goals to raise rates this year and is next in line with inflation.

The Quebec wing of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), Option consommateurs and the Association québécoise des consommateurs industriels d’électricité (AQCIE) even want the Quebec government to create the region’s energy regulator, the Régie de l’énergie, get Hydro to heel to safeguard customers.

According to Statistics Canada, in January 2022, inflation in Canada surpassed five percent for the only time since September 1991. By comparison, the general Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by one percent in January 2021.

The three organizations state Hydro-Québec, a monopoly, earned $3.5 billion in 2021. 

According to their calculations, by 2023, the Crown corporation will have made an additional $600 million with its offered rate spikes.

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Groups asks for freeze on Hydro-Quebec rates

Christian Corbeil, director of Option consommateurs, says that pulling the Régie de l’énergie‘s ability to select Hydro-Québec’s rates yearly has exposed customers to rate-shocks and permitted the Crown corporation to make excessive returns.

François Vincent, vice-president of CFIB Quebec, states that simply as small- and medium-sized businesses are attempting to bounce back from the pandemic, they are being struck by inflation.

“Right now, it is the worst time that Hydro-Québec can set a rate boost,” he said. “The bulk of small businesses did not regain their normal earnings.”

In a news release, Vincent said the minister of energy and natural resources must comprehend that strangling small businesses won’t aid the economy in the short, medium, or long term.

The CFIB estimated that the average rate expansion for a small regional business would be about $200 a year, and the average increase for all commercial customers would be $518 more yearly.

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