Chief urges Manitoba Hydro to scrap challenge against electricity rate freeze for First Nations - APTN NewsAPTN News

Chief urges Manitoba Hydro to scrap challenge against electricity rate freeze for First Nations

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) is calling on Manitoba Hydro to roll back its challenge against an order to freeze electricity rates for First Nations communities in the province.

A month ago the Public Utilities Board (PUB) ruled Hydro must create an “On Reserve First Nations” customer class with no rate increase for the coming year to deal with what it calls energy poverty.

Now the Crown corporation is challenging the order, a move Grand Chief Arlen Dumas calls “unfortunate.”

“The Public Utilities Board’s decision to create a new First Nations on-reserve rate was an important step towards alleviating energy poverty,” he said. “At a time when Manitoba Hydro and governments are constantly talking about reconciliation, it’s unfortunate that they would try to overturn this important decision.

“AMC is calling on Hydro to withdraw its application to stay the PUBs order, and is considering all of its legal options to protect the order.”

Hydro argues the utilities board does not have the legal authority to make this kind of ruling.

According to the Manitoba Hydro Act, the rates charged for power supplied to a class of grid customers “shall be the same throughout the province.”

Scott Powell, director of corporate communications for Manitoba Hydro, said the PUB is possibly ordering the Crown corporation to do something illegal.

“We understand the case for energy poverty. We understand it’s an issue. But that isn’t the issue for us in this particular case,” he said, adding it’s a jurisdictional and legal issue.

“I don’t think any one of our customers would expect us to operate outside the law.”

A panel will now be put in place to resolve the dispute.

If Hydro is unsuccessful it can go to court.

The board’s ruling from May 1 increased rates by 3.6 per cent on average, less than the 7.9 per cent requested by Hydro.

At the time, Hydro said it’s projecting debt levels of up to $27 billion.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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4 Responses to “Chief urges Manitoba Hydro to scrap challenge against electricity rate freeze for First Nations”

    Fred June 2, 2018 at 7:40 am #

    How can the Manitoba hydro be in debt 27 billion dollars??? Is the operating budget at 27 billion dollars? We all pay hydro so how can Manitoba hydro be in debt 27 billion dollars? Is it just me and the people I know the only ones paying hydro, could that be why Manitoba hydro is projecting a 27 billion dollar deficit? Maybe PUB should fire the executives if the projected deficit is going to be 27 billion dollars. This is inconceivable to think a company who just built a damn, new power lines and a building to be projecting a 27 billion dollar deficit. The executives who run Manitoba hydro should be replaced. If we all pay hydro every month how can we even be in debt????

    Thomas June 1, 2018 at 8:09 pm #

    Why should first nations get a break when they caused Bi pole three to be routed down the west side of the province in the first place!!!

      Raymond June 4, 2018 at 3:13 pm #

      You talk about Bi Pole route…the province doesn’t have our support on any construction respecting this project: The Premier keeps stating on record that First Nations are in full support…Bull s**t we are; fact check before you make assumptions…and we never get any user fees, royalties or anything when the feds & provincial governments bulldoze their way onto our reserves & land areas…so know your truth…

    poncho June 1, 2018 at 7:55 pm #

    This is a case where the Feds pay the power bills for the people on social to the provinces and they charge the big price because they can and the province calls it a resort rate. Get together committees stop blaming the poorest of the poor for this stupidity eh.