Hay River, N.W.T., residents won't know what new power rates will be until end of the year

NTPC initially quoted a decrease of 20 per cent for Hay River residents on their power bills. The N.W.T. Public Utilities Board approved the transfer but not the rate quote. Now residents won't know their new rates until the end of the year.

Public Utilities Board has asked both NTPC and Northlands to complete general rate applications

A blue office building with flags on top.
The Northwest Territories Power Corporation's office in Hay River, N.W.T. (NTPC)

The Town of Hay River, N.W.T. has approval from the N.W.T. Public Utilities Board to transfer from Northland Utilities to N.W.T. Power Corporation, but it doesn't sound like it will be an easy process.

The Power Corporation's (NTPC) initial estimate of a 20 per cent rate decrease for Hay River is also now in question and the community will have to wait until the end of the year to see what the new rates will be.

Paul Grant is the chief financial officer at NTPC. He said the 20 per cent decrease was based on Hay River using the Taltson zone rates, which is also accessed by the Town of Fort Smith and Fort Resolution.

The Taltson zone rates are generally 20 per cent lower than the rest of the territory. But the N.W.T. Public Utilities Board did not approve that estimate and the board directed both utility companies to complete a new general rate application.

"A general rate application is a large undertaking, our last application was probably, you know, 1,000 pages long. So it's a pretty significant document that needs to be created," said Grant.

Grant said the board will most likely look at both applications at the same time. The applications will look at the cost of services and how that is distributed throughout each zone. Then, they will make a determination that is in the best interest of the customers, he said. 

"They provided a timeframe of December 31 2024, for submissions," Grant said. "And that seems that that's a fairly aggressive timeframe, but we'll be working toward meeting that timeframe."

The three rate zones are the Thermal Rate Zone, Taltson Rate Zone, and the Snare Rate Zone.

NTPC's website states that communities accessing power from diesel or gas sources are called thermal communities. Their rates are generally higher than the rates in communities accessing hydro electricity.

Hay River has accessed their power from The Taltson hydro dam since the Pine Point Mine closed.

A man wearing glasses and a suit poses for a photo
Paul Grant, NTPC's chief financial officer, says a general rate application is a 'large undertaking.' (Submitted by Paul Grant)

Power rates in limbo until applications complete

Grant said unfortunately they won't know what Hay River's power rates will be until the applications are done, but that the outcome of the general rate application could also affect power rates across the territory.

"The format of a general rate application is pretty defined. It looks at what the cost of service is and for us that would be the cost of service for the whole territory," he said.

"It's a big process. We're still examining on on what that means for across the board,"

Grant said the transfer will increase NTPC's customer base by 25 per cent, which will also contribute to their ability to keep rates down.

"Whenever you get economies of scale, it's effective in controlling costs as much as we can," he said.

Grant said although the Public Utilities Board did not provide them the ability to transfer as quickly as they would like, they are very happy that the final decision has been made.

"We've been very patient," he said. "As have the residents of Hay River."

"We're certainly happy that the process has passed a certain milestone that we've been waiting for for a very long time. So it's just a bunch of work to get the rest of the process done."

Grant said NTPC is happy to take over the franchise and they are committed to providing "safe, reliable power at the most affordable rate that can be provided in the Northwest Territories."

The N.W.T. Public Utilities Board gave the closing date of December 31, 2024 for the assets purchase and sale transaction, with the possibility of extra time to avoid higher rates that could occur from the transaction. There is no transfer date yet.


Carla Ulrich

Video journalist

Carla Ulrich is a video journalist with CBC North in Fort Smith, N.W.T. Reach her at