Written by Paul Figueiredo

Saskatchewan homeowners may need to shave just a little bit off of their usual Christmas spending this year, as SaskEnergy's proposed rate hike was approved by the rate review panel.

Initially requested back in early September, the crown corporation cited the rising cost of natural gas on the world stage and had requested an increase in its commodity rate to $3.15/gigajoule; an amount that would increase the average residential bill by about $5.65 per month on average (8.4 percent).

Small and medium businesses would be hit a little bit harder with jumps anywhere from $28 to $360 per month depending on usage (11.4 to 14.4 percent).

The approved number came out a little bit higher, with the new commodity rate set at $3.20/gigajoule rather than the proposed $3.15, or roughly 28.1 percent. 

The increase is also expected to balance the Gas Cost Variance Account (GCVA); effectively a running count of the difference between the commodity revenue that SaskEnergy takes in versus the cost of purchasing that gas on the world market.  Estimated to be sitting at $18.8 million by the end of the month, a portion of the increased rates is expected to essentially "balance the cheque book" by taking care of the GCVA variance over a two-year time frame.

Alana Johnson spoke with West Central Online in September when the rate hike was first submitted to the rate review panel and stressed that SaskEnergy's commodity rate was its lowest in 20 years and that the increase would be the first hike to that since 2014.

Depending on usage, residential customers can expect to see an increase of roughly $74 per year, small businesses $361, and large businesses, $4,713.

The rate hike will take effect on November 1, 2021.