“The initial economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many Albertans being unable to pay their electricity bills and natural gas bills. This is why Alberta’s government created the Utility Payment Deferral Program, which successfully supported hundreds of thousands of Albertans. While retailers worked flexibly and compassionately with customers who had outstanding deferral balances, a small portion of those debts were never settled.

“Repayment of any remaining debt through a rate rider was included in the Utility Payment Deferral Program Act, which was passed in the legislature in May 2020. Analysis of the total deferral repayments shows a remaining balance that is significantly less than originally anticipated.

“This fall, Alberta utility rate payers will see a small and temporary ‘Utility Deferral Adjustment’ rate rider on their electricity and natural gas bills. Average household consumers are expected to be charged a fraction of a dollar on electricity and natural gas bills for a few months.

“The Alberta Utilities Commission is in the process of gathering the total remaining debt from retailers and will determine the amount and length of the rider that will be required. The program’s intention was to provide relief to those hardest hit by the pandemic while having a minimal impact on utility bills for consumers as a whole.

“This small, temporary rate rider ensures that the debt will be repaid in the most transparent and straightforward manner.”