City-owned Enmax has finally released the number of customers it has on load limiters months after CBC News initially asked for the information.
A limiter is a device added to a meter to restrict the flow of electricity.
Stoves, dryers and other appliances that use a lot of electricity no longer work; turning on too many lights or computers will also trigger a temporary disconnection.
Charles Ruigrok, interim president and CEO of the utility, says 300 customers currently have load limiters placed on their homes.
“That’s down 80 per cent from the peak prior to the removal of the winter moratorium. Interestingly enough, we had fewer people on load limiters this winter during a higher price environment than we did last winter,” he said at the corporation’s annual general meeting on Tuesday.
“I don’t know if that’s the result of perhaps more people unemployed early on in the pandemic than in this latest winter season, but the number is down fairly dramatically.”
2,500 customers on load limiters last year
Ruigrok said Enmax hit a peak last year of close to 2,500 customers on load limiters; this year it was closer to 1,500. He said Enmax hasn’t disconnected anyone so far in 2022.
“We have worked with the customers that were on the load limiters last winter to try to get them to the point where they’ve got perhaps a move to a budget plan that is easier for them to accommodate with their income streams,” he said. “Or deferred payments and give them more time to pay.”
CBC News initially asked Enmax to share this information in March, but the corporation refused. Then in May, Enmax still wouldn’t share exact numbers but said households on limiters represented less than one per cent of residential accounts, and that total was down 28 per cent from last year.
At the time, a number of city councillors said they would be pushing the company for more transparency on the issue.
City looks to use Enmax earnings to help
Mayor Jyoti Gondek says city council has not forgotten about Calgarians who have had difficulties paying their energy bills this year.
“Many residents have been caught in the downturn to a very extreme degree. People have lost their jobs. People are in jeopardy of losing their homes,” she said.
“Obviously, utility rates are something that are top of mind for many, many Calgarians that are in positions of precariousness.”
The city received a $62-million dividend from Enmax this year, up from $58 million in 2021.
She says city council is in active talks about how the dividend from Enmax can be used to help Calgarians in need.
“There’s conversations taking place right now, but there are a lot of legal aspects to what we can and cannot do. So together with Enmax, we’re trying to come up with the best solution. But right now, it is sitting with legal teams to make sure that we get this right,” she said.
“There is a regulator that we are responsible to as well. So we need to make sure that we are exercising caution before we announce anything to the public.”
The mayor says council should be able to announce its decision in the weeks ahead.