The provincial government recently started consultations on the creation of a new energy strategy addressing key energy challenges faced now and over the next 10 to 15 years. The draft document is heavily focused on renewable energy, sustainability, and energy efficiency, while promoting the development of a greener economy for the island.
While there is lots of talk in the discussion paper of environmental issues, there were some key ingredients missing for small businesses.
Problems with the current rate structure
It’s no secret that Islanders pay some of the highest electricity rates in Canada. Small and medium-sized businesses also bear the brunt of this cost due to “cross-subsidization.” Because of this rate structure, small businesses in Prince Edward Island can pay as much as 20 per cent more than their actual cost of service in order to offset lower rates provided to other rate groups.
In Nova Scotia, a Small Business Advocate represents general service customers at rate hearings and has helped to substantially reduce the amount of cross-subsidization in that province.
On top of an improved rate hearing process, we have recommended such an advocate be put in place to ensure the interests of small businesses are adequately represented.
Energy efficiency programs for small businesses
While the draft strategy proposes some ways to help individuals to invest in green energy and efficiency, it also makes note of the fact that small businesses “face significant barriers to participating in energy efficiency programs.” Such programs for businesses can be tricky because of demand pricing (i.e. a business’ peak demand for energy can drastically alter their monthly bill regardless of how much energy they use overall), but small businesses shouldn’t be left out of the discussion.
For more information, look at CFIB’s official energy submission under “Related Files” or check out government’s 2016 Official Energy Strategy.