There’s no good reason the UCP government can’t get utility rebates in the hands of Albertans by the end of May, NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley says.
If passed, Bill 18, the Utility Commodity Rebate Act, will pave the way for electricity rebates and potential natural gas rebates, although details about how and when the rebates might roll out are still up in the air.
Natural gas and electricity associate minister Dale Nally has said he hoped the electricity rebates, which include $50 for each of three months, will show up on power bills by June. As the government drafts regulations, it’s also unclear when natural gas rebates might be introduced based on a trigger price of $6.50 per gigajoule.
At a news conference Monday, Notley said her party would introduce proposed changes so cash from both rebates would have to be fast-tracked.
“There should be no reason that they can’t get it done by May 31,” said Notley, who accused the UCP of being distracted by party infighting and Premier Jason Kenney’s leadership review.
“It is absolutely extraordinary how much time the UCP has wasted without getting a handle on this issue,” said Notley, noting that some Albertans have been paying punitive bills since last year.
Nally has said the timing of the electricity rebate depends on how long it takes the utility retailers to be able to adjust their billing systems.
The bill was introduced last Wednesday, but when Nally asked for unanimous consent to speed up debate so it could be passed more quickly, NDP members did not grant it.
Nally told reporters in the legislature building Monday the NDP was to blame for the holdup by not agreeing to unanimous consent.
“We could have had royal assent last Thursday afternoon, and we could have been doing the regulations today, and gotten these rebates out even faster… it is the NDP that is slowing this process down,” said Nally, adding the NDP’s proposed amendments are specifics that should be dealt with in regulations, which are yet to be written.
“It amounts to nothing more than paralysis by analysis,” said Nally.
Other proposed NDP amendments call for an audit and review of why prices have spiked so high, a ban on utility shut-offs this year and whenever a rebate program is activated by the legislation, and for future use of the bill to require the government provide rebates within 30 days of authorization.
When asked if he supported the idea of a 30-day deadline for the government, Nally said it’s an issue to be dealt with through regulations.