Jan. 26, 2010
SAINT JOHN (CNB) - Municipal power utilities will receive an annual rebate on their utility taxes for the five-year residential and commercial rate freeze period under the final agreement between NB Power and Hydro-Québec. Energy Minister Jack Keir made the announcement today.
The rebate will help municipal utilities offset increasing operating costs, enabling them to freeze residential and commercial rates for five years. Through planned legislative changes, the municipal utilities will also be able to provide industrial customers on their distribution systems with the same industrial rate reductions as those offered by NB Power.
"The government has been working hard to address issues relating to the memorandum of understanding (known as an MOU, between New Brunswick and Quebec) and our municipal utilities, including the effect of a five-year freeze in residential and commercial electricity rates as well as planned reductions in industrial rates," said Keir. "I am pleased that we have identified a solution that ensures all New Brunswick residents, businesses and industry, will have the opportunity to benefit from the final agreement reached with NB Power and Hydro-Québec."
There are three municipal electric utilities in New Brunswick: Saint John Energy, Edmundston Energy and the Perth-Andover Electric Light Commission.
"We are extremely pleased that the provincial government has found a way to address the complicated issues relating to the MOU and our municipal utilities, which were confronted with unique challenges," said Edmundston Mayor Jacques Martin. "This puts everyone on a level playing field and will allow us to pursue Edmundston Energy's on-going development."
"I thank the province for listening to our concerns about the future of Saint John Energy," said Saint John Mayor Ivan Court. "Saint John Energy has confirmed that the agreement will not impair its operations. This will create stable rates and cost savings for residents, businesses and our municipal operations."
On Jan. 20, premiers Shawn Graham and Jean Charest announced the conclusion of negotiations on an energy agreement between New Brunswick and Québec.
Under the agreement, New Brunswick will retain NB Power, including transmission and distribution as an independent system operator.
New Brunswick residents, businesses, municipalities, schools, hospitals and industry are expected to benefit from the advantageous electricity rates.
The province will also achieve a significant reduction in its net debt and be able to secure a long-term source of clean electricity. At the same time, the province will retain responsibility for its energy agenda and growth plans for the energy hub and implementation.
MEDIA CONTACT: Bonnie Doyle Creber, communications, Department of Energy, 506-658-2410.