UPDATE: Hydro-Quebec now wants to hike rates by 5.8%
Hydro Quebec customers should brace themselves — the utility has amended its request with the province's energy board for a rate change.
Its original demand for a 3.4 per cent increase has been modified — Hydro now wants a 5.8 percent hike as of April 2014.
If allowed, it would mean an increase almost five times the rate of inflation.
At least one consumer advocate says this is the steepest hike in the past 15 years.
"We would have preferred the government use more traditional ways to levy funds, like taxes," says Marc-Olivier Moisan-Plante, an energy analyste at Union des consommateurs. "We think the hike will hurt people with lower incomes."
A combination of integrating politically-mandated wind-generated electricity into the grid, increasing the utility's rate of return on investments and equipment upgrades are behind the hike.
The increase would mean $531 million more per year in revenue for the utility.
Hydro-Quebec generated a net profit of $1.8 billion for the first half of 2013 — up 5.9 per cent compared to 2012.