A bill that would stop the GNWT from limiting power for residents who’ve fallen behind on payments during the winter has passed its second reading.
If passed, it would see both residents’ and the Northwest Territories Power Corporations’ debts grow perpetually, according to R.J. Simpson.
MLA Jackie Jacobson moved the bill which would prevent the GNWT from disconnecting a resident’s power between October 1 to April 30, if temperatures dropped below zero.
The bill would also require the NTPC to switch a resident’s power back on if they had it switched off between May 1 to September 30, when October 1 hits.
It would also prevent the installation of power limiters, and require the NTPC to put residents who fell behind on payments on a repayment plan.
“It would essentially create a right to receive power while removing the obligation to pay for it. This would have a number of negative impacts on our residents,” Simpson said in response to the bill.
“We would undoubtedly see some customers become burdened with large and perpetually growing debts, and as a consequence, the power companies would see their uncollectible debts grow.”
Simpson says they already saw this happen when overdue payment swerve paused during the pandemic. Payments restarted in October.
“NTPC is sensitive to the economic challenges that the pandemic continues to pose for customers but cannot afford to maintain the status quo,” Noel Voykin, President and CEO, Northwest Territories Power Corporation, said in a statement
The territorial power provider had suspended collections and disconnections on March 16. In that time, more than $2 million in overdue accounts has accumulated.
“Ultimately, the lost revenue created as a result of this bill would have to be recouped through the ratepayers meaning higher power rates and higher bills for everyone,” Simpson added.
The bill is now headed to committee.
After it clears the committee, it will go for a third reading and then a vote.