Minister says Hydro-Quebec overcharged clients


QUEBEC – Quebecers have unwittingly helped the province balance its budget in paying their electricity bills.

Natural Resources Minister Pierre Arcand confirmed today that Hydro-Quebec has imposed higher rates than necessary on users over several years.

Since 2008, subscribers have overpaid the provincially owned utility an estimated $1.4 billion.

Arcand told reporters that money helped to pay down the province’s deficit.

Now that Quebec has balanced its budget, Arcand says Hydro-Quebec will have to be more modest when it seeks rate increases.

The province’s energy board evaluates the utility’s request for rate increases.

This year, electricity rates went up 0.7 per cent in Quebec as of April 1.

Arcand says the overpayments mean rate increases will be quite low going forward.