To cap or not to cap, that is the question. Mr. Premier, the answer is obvious and staring you right in the face. The answer is simple: a cap is not the solution.
60% of Albertans have already found the solution to high energy rates and the majority are paying less than half the price of those on the Government’s Regulated Rate Option (RRO). If you put a cap on rates, you are subsidizing the cost of electricity by taking tax dollars out of the pockets of those who have already made the switch to competitive retailers.
We ask you to respect the fact that the market was deregulated, in part, to encourage companies to invest in Alberta. It was the competitive market that drove prices down – not government subsidies. Your government’s own Alberta’s Recovery Plan was designed to encourage investment and grow our economy; a subsidy will do quite the opposite by further taxing Albertans unnecessarily.
Consumers may not realize that the last time a cap on electricity was implemented for RRO customers, it cost taxpayers over $100 Million (source: Government of Alberta Annual Report on Energy 2019-2020, pages 54-55), with most of the subsidy going to ENMAX, EPCOR, and Direct Energy. There is absolutely no reason for consumers to fear buying electricity from competitive retailers. They offer fixed guaranteed rates that do not lock customers in nor do they penalize them if they want to cancel early.
Knowledge is Power
In a recent article published by Chris Varcoe at the Calgary Herald, Dr. Blake Shaffer recommends consumers get on fixed-price contracts for electricity and natural gas, and believes the province could do a better job promoting and educating consumers about their options.
In the article, Dr. Shaffer expressed his dissatisfaction with the idea of introducing an “across-the-board government program that interrupts the price signal that encourages people to consume less.” He would prefer to see initiatives that protect the most vulnerable.
“What we can’t accept is people struggling to pay their bills and having to worry about losing access to utility services,” says Shaffer.
With this advice, we suggest now is the time for the Department of Energy and the Utility Consumers Advocate (UCA) to work together to terminate and repurpose the Government RRO. There are now over 40 retailers in Alberta for consumers to choose from, all offering a range of attractive competitive prices - all of which are significantly below current RRO prices.
MLAs and government regulators should be proactively encouraging homeowners to get off the RRO. By signing up for a fixed energy rate, they immediately reduce the cost of energy. Most importantly, the focus should be placed on the increasing cost of the regulated charges on a homeowner's utility bill. It is not the rate paid for energy, but all the extra distribution, transmission costs, and municipal taxes added to the monthly invoice. A cap on the RRO would only add to these line items. You cannot fix the problem if you don’t focus on the cause.
Last month, we sent out a warning: Electricity bills for customers on the Government RRO are increasing, and consumers will be in for a bit of a shock when they get their January utility bill. As expected, ENMAX and Direct Energy increased their RRO rates again in February, while EPCOR cut their rates slightly. If you want to reduce the exposure to higher rates and lower your utility bill, the solution is simple: get off the Government RRO.
Are you a homeowner in the ATCO Wires Territory (North and East-Central Alberta)? Here is just one example of what thousands of consumers will be stuck paying in February.
If they were to switch over to another retailer, they would save upwards of 50% on the energy they consume, in addition to lower monthly administration fees.
RRO RATE (February) + Administration Fee
Direct Energy: 16.557 cents/kWhr $13.80/month
Guaranteed Rate + Lower Administration Fee
NewGen Energy: 8.45 cents/kWhr $6.00/month
All You Have to do is Call
Winter government-regulated rates are high and have risen again in February. As a consumer, if you are on the government rate, you are paying too much. Just switch retailers, the solution is that simple.
We hope you will support a small business retailer like NewGen Energy, but should you want to stay with one of the big utilities companies you have lots of choices available. All you have to do is pick up the phone and switch rates. You do not need the government to subsidize a rate cap. (Remember: If the rate cap is brought back, it will be your tax dollars they’re spending.).
This is a better options:
NewGen Energy: 403-450-8591 / www.newgen-energy.ca/
In addition to lower rates, there are many other competitive and community advantages by signing up with an independent retailer. As locally-owned and operated businesses in Alberta, we are also dedicated to giving back to the communities that have been supporting us for over a decade. When you sign up for electricity, natural gas, or Internet services, you are supporting deserving organizations across Alberta. You’re paying for your utilities anyway; why not support local causes at no extra cost?
It’s time to take control of your utility bill. Join the 60% of Albertans who have chosen competitive rates to save money on electricity. Together we can make a difference.