A resolution put forward by Grande Prairie city council will see Alberta Municipalities lobby the provincial government to find a solution to what they say is a disparity in electricity distribution and transmission rates. It asks members to collectively lobby the province to eliminate the disparity in electricity pricing for transmission and distribution charges across the province and passed with 88 per cent support at the conference late last month.
Grande Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton says one of the top concerns that city councillors hear centres around the escalating costs of electricity distribution and transmission rates faced by people in Grande Prairie.
“We are pleased that the vast majority of Alberta municipalities agreed with us that there needs to be a major change to how these rates are distributed across the province. We welcome their support in our advocacy efforts.”
According to the municipality, the ATCO service area that includes Grande Prairie has the highest delivery rates in the province with annual residential charges averaging $1,347 in 2021, compared to an average of $548 for large urban centres including Edmonton and Calgary. ABMunis Director and Grande Prairie City Councillor Dylan Bressey says the deviation in rates does more than just put the squeeze on residents to pay more; it’s a domino effect that can have major impacts on the region.
“This is putting a big burden on our residents. It’s also something that puts a big burden on the city’s operating costs and it puts a burden out of our economy because it’s driving business out of northern Alberta.”
Bressey adds urban centres, like Grande Prairie, should help pay to get power into rural areas, however, he argues it can’t be all on the shoulders of those who live outside of the two largest cities.
“I have no issue with us helping pay for power to get into rural areas, we rely on them for our food. All urban Albertans should pay to help develop our rural areas, not just people who live in specific areas serviced by one power provider. We are open to different solutions, we just would like to see something like either BC or Saskatchewan, where the entire province shares the cost of the grid province-wide in some manner.”
The city notes that provinces like British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba have equalized electricity delivery rates “recognizing the interconnectedness of the system and the general benefit to all of having a connected system.”