A topic that homeowners may have to deal with in the future or are curious about are idle service charges and what that means in Alberta. If you own a home or are looking to purchase one in the future, it is good to know your options and what this means.
What are idle service charges?
The idle service charges are in a nutshell – the charge for electricity lines and poles, delivery of those services, and your property still being hooked up to the province’s power grid, regardless of whether you have service currently or not. It helps to maintain and keep things running across the province and stay connected.
Any rural property in Alberta that is wired for electricity will receive idle service charges, even if the service itself is discontinued. Being charged for periods of idleness is how electricity distributors pay for the cost of maintaining nearby transmission lines and how they keep the area wired to the province’s power grid.
How to avoid idle service charges and bills?
To avoid any idle service charges, you will have to go the route of asking your distributor to ‘salvage’ the property, meaning they will come in to remove your electricity meter and other equipment — in some cases, they may also remove poles and power lines. As stated before, this is only recommended if you have no intention of electricity being used at the site again, as the cost to reinstall any removed equipment and lines will be far more than any other fees would be.
There is a reconnection fee if you choose to have electricity back on your land and that can be extremely expensive in comparison to the idle fees. It is advised to be completely sure that you do not want power hooked back up onto your property in the future if you are choosing to have it disconnected by your provider.
Idle service charges vs Disconnecting services
When you disconnect your services from your distributor, you are also responsible for the idle service charges that can accumulate afterwards. Many think that once your services are ended that you don’t have to pay any more energy bills or fees. If you ask your electricity distributor beforehand about any idle service charges, they may be on a monthly basis or if you need a longer timeframe, they may be able to work out a yearly bill for you.
In the case of looking to fully disconnect from fees or idle charges, you may contact the UCA (Utilities Consumer Advocate) for advice or directly contact your wire service provider to have them physically take out lines, poles, and electricity meter.
As stated previously – be sure that you do not want to run power to the property again or are prepared to pay exorbitant fees in the future, as putting equipment back and reconnecting is a heavily expensive chore.