Hydro-Quebec announces 2.6 per cent rate increase as of April 1; opposition parties unhappy

A Hydro Quebec logo is seen on their head office building Thursday, February 26, 2015 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Hydro-Québec will raise its electricity rates by 2.6 per cent effective April 1, the utility giant said Friday.

This is a larger increase than the last one, which was 1.3 per cent.

This increase, which will affect all rate categories except the large industrial rate (Rate L), represents an indexation based on inflation, Hydro-Québec explained.

To reach this 2.6 per cent adjustment, Hydro-Québec used a method recognized by Statistics Canada and the province's energy board, it said.

The company noted the change in the consumer price index in Quebec between Sept. 30, 2020 and Sept.30, 2021, excluding the prices of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and recreational cannabis.

The inflationary increase in electricity rates is provided for in a law that the Legault government passed in December 2019 -- an Act to simplify the process for setting electricity distribution rates.

The law ties rates to inflation and exempts Hydro-Québec from an annual review by the energy board.

On Tuesday, in Quebec City, the opposition parties were united in denouncing the "staggering" rate increase.

But Energy Minister Jonatan Julien said he had no intention of intervening to limit the increase in electricity rates.

"What we're giving Quebecers is predictability... based on inflation," he said at a press conference on Tuesday.

"There is nothing more predictable than that, and we will not interfere politically to change that."

The parliamentary leader of Québec Solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, said he felt that inflation, by definition, "is very difficult to predict."

The leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ), Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, said it is the most vulnerable families who will pay the price of these rate increases.

The consequence of the Legault reform "is that now Hydro-Quebec can increase the bill for all Quebecers without even having gone before the board," argued Liberal leader Dominique Anglade.

According to Hydro-Quebec, for residential customers who heat with electricity, the monthly impact of the 2.6 per cent increase as of April 1 will be $1.93 per month on average for a five-and-a-half room dwelling, $3.60 per month for a small house, $4.77 per month for a medium-sized house and $5.89 per month for a large house.

In addition, Hydro-Québec is maintaining the suspension of administration fees for unpaid bills that it introduced because of the health crisis, provided that a payment agreement has been reached.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Oct. 22, 2021.

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