NTPC given extension to come up with new rate hike request

A regulator that denied the NWT Power Corporation’s request for 10-percent power rate increases in some communities has extended the deadline for NTPC to submit a new plan.

The Public Utilities Board last week ruled that proposed back-to-back increases in Fort Smith, Fort Resolution and Norman Wells – amounting to more than 20 percent over two years – would mean “an unacceptable level of rate shock.”

The board initially asked NTPC to come back within a week with a new proposal.

However, the power corporation said in a letter that the “scope and extent” of the Public Utilities Board’s decision – which gave NTPC a number of instructions – meant it could not meet that deadline.

NTPC instead asked to be given until February 18 to propose a new set of rates, which the board has now accepted.

The board has already ruled that increases in Fort Smith, Fort Resolution and Norman Wells can be no more than one percent higher in those communities than anywhere else.

The power corporation earlier said it was “continuing to review the decision in order to fully understand the impact on NTPC’s financial situation and the impact on rates.”

NTPC had argued big increases were necessary in several communities because “significant pre-existing shortfalls” had built up – in part because previous requests for rate hikes were denied or reduced by the Public Utilities Board – and rates in communities like Fort Smith were, as a result, lower than they should be compared to other areas.

The board rejected that argument, pointing to an NWT government policy paper from 2017 that restricted the power corporation’s ability to make such significant increases in some communities but not others.