A Closer Look at Alberta’s Updated $200 Electricity Rebate and Price Limit on Electricity
After a year of high electricity bills and a six-month-long electricity rebate, the Alberta government announced an additional electricity rebate coming in 2023 (from January to April) for a total of $200. The Province published a news release on December 7th stating this will be delivered in four monthly payments ($75 credits on the January and February bills, and $25 credits in March and April.)
The government also announced a temporary ceiling for electricity prices in January, February and March 2023. Consumers under the regulated rate option (RRO) will get a temporary price limit of 13.5 cents/kWh. Electricity costs above the temporary ceiling will be deferred and repaid over 21 months (April 2023 to December 2024). RRO prices averaged above 15 cents/kWh in 2022.
Alberta’s electricity prices kept getting higher in 2022, reaching record-high prices; in December of 2022, regulated prices (RRO) went above 22 cents/kWh, the highest regulated prices since the market went deregulated, as far as we could track on the Utilities Consumer Advocate website.
With the current electricity rebate set to end this month, Albertans were concerned about not having any electricity bill relief this winter, which is set to be colder than average and could highly affect energy bills.
Image source: Screenshot of the governmental Energy affordability programs webpage
Read on to understand how the Alberta government electricity rebate works, as well as a timeline of the latest electricity bill relief programs:
Alberta government electricity rebate: Eligibility, amounts, and dates
Timeline of Alberta government electricity rebates (2022-2023)
DECEMBER 2022 ($200 rebate and temporary electricity price cap) – The Alberta government announced an additional electricity rebate for early 2023 (from January to April) for a total of $200. This will be delivered in four monthly payments ($75 credits on the January and February bills, and $25 credits in March and April.)
Eligibility criteria remains the same: Anyone who consumed less than 250 megawatt-hours of electricity within the past calendar year. About 1.9 million homes, farms and businesses are expected to receive the rebate.
The government also announced a temporary ceiling for electricity prices in January, February and March 2023. Consumers under the regulated rate option (RRO) will get a temporary price limit of 13.5 cents/kWh. Electricity costs above the temporary ceiling will be repaid over 21 months (April 2023 to December 2024).
Based on 2022 numbers, the lowest RRO prices were set in March, April, May, and June for that year. RRO prices were quite above the 13.5 cents/kWh threshold for all other months of 2022.
JULY 2022 ($300 rebate) – On July 6th, 2022, the provincial government announced the electricity rebate program would be expanded and would go through the rest of 2022. Eligible Albertans would receive a monthly $50 bill credit for six consecutive months, for a total of $300, instead of the initially planned $150 amount (please see below.)
The rebate was listed on each bill as a line item titled “GOA Utility Commodity Rebate,” and $50 rebates followed in August, September, October, November, and December for a total of $300. The exact timing varied depending on the billing cycle of each utility provider, but most energy consumers have seen the electricity bill relief starting in July and stretching until the end of December.
The government worked with over 45 of the province’s energy retailers to coordinate this program.
As published in the government’s official news release, the $50 rebates applied to the entire bill, not just the energy portion. The program covered both consumers on the variable regulated rate option as well as those with competitive retailers. This means that if you switched energy retailers and started a competitive contract, you’d still be eligible, as long as you were under the consumption threshold mentioned above.
Consumers who had not received the rebates by the end of July 2022 should contact the Utilities Consumer Advocate.
MARCH 2022 ($150 rebate) – Following the 2022 Provincial Budget, where the Alberta government offered a price protection mechanism for natural gas, and with Alberta’s electricity prices hitting unparalleled highs in January, the government offered rebates to help Albertan families and businesses pay their bills.
The government offered a $150 retroactive rebate on electricity bills over the winter of 2022. The rebate, applied directly to the electricity bill, provided partial reimbursement for electricity bills from January to March (2022) to anyone who consumed less than 250 megawatt-hours of electricity within the past calendar year. Over one million homes, farms, and small businesses would receive this rebate.
Eligible consumers received a $50 monthly rebate for each of the months mentioned above.
Removal of Fuel taxes
A plan to suspend the entire 13 cents per litre provincial tax between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2023, was also announced on Dec 7th, 2022. After June 2023, Albertans will get fuel tax relief whenever the average oil prices during each quarter’s determination period are above $80 per barrel.
In 2022, the government temporarily stopped collecting the provincial fuel tax to provide relief for Albertans facing high fuel costs (gasoline and diesel.)
Currently, drivers who use gasoline are saving 8.9 cents per litre, and drivers who rely on diesel save 4.2 cents per litre. Both including GST. Fuel tax is still collected on rail, propane, and aviation fuels.
The fuel tax relief program is reviewed quarterly and the current system was set to end on January 1st, 2023. With the latest governmental announcement, that gives consumers at least six more months of automatic savings when filling up at the pump.