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November 2, 2005 - Saskatchewan Energy Share Plan Unveiled

November 2, 2005

Saskatchewan Energy Share Plan Unveiled

Saskatchewan Energy Share is a detailed two-part plan to provide short and long-term assistance to Saskatchewan residents to help deal with rising energy costs.

The short-term assistance program, which was announced today, will shield consumers from high costs during the next five months by capping the SaskEnergy rate increase. The bill impact will be an average of 10 per cent more for residential and farm customers, and an average of 11 per cent more for business customers. The long-term assistance part of the plan involves a package of energy conservation programs which will be announced next week.

"Saskatchewan people told us that a dramatic increase in energy costs would be a financial burden, especially with winter on its way," Premier Lorne Calvert said. "As a result, we are implementing a lower rate increase than was recommended by the Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel. Under our program, the average residential customer will save about $255 over the next five months, while the average farm customer will save about $327 and the average commercial customer will save about $971.

"We are able to provide this assistance because we own our Crown corporations and because we can afford the costs due to a higher than anticipated budget surplus. Saskatchewan people deserve to benefit from that surplus, and this is one way we are doing that."

Government will pay the extra energy costs for social assistance clients who now have their utility bills paid for by Government. As well, people who receive income support payments from the Transitional Employment Allowance, Provincial Training Allowance, Saskatchewan Employment Supplement, and the Saskatchewan Income Plan, will receive an extra supplement of $20 per month for the next five months.

"We wanted to make sure that people on low incomes were protected from this rate increase," Crown Management Board Minister Pat Atkinson said.

Saskatchewan residents who use fuel oil or propane to heat their homes will receive assistance to help pay for rising costs. They will be eligible to apply for a one-time cash rebate of $200 per household, which will be provided in January.

Saskatchewan residents of Lloydminster will also receive a one-time benefit of $200 per household, which we expect to have applied to their January bill from their natural gas supplier.

The short-term assistance program will cost about $130.54 million. Funding will be directed to the programs from the province's General Revenue Fund.

"We are projecting a budget surplus that is significantly larger than we had anticipated, mainly due to higher revenue from oil and natural gas royalties," Finance Minister Harry Van Mulligen said. "It is only right that we should use some of the money collected from these royalties to help shield Saskatchewan people from the immediate effects of higher energy costs, and help them conserve energy into the future."

In addition to the Saskatchewan Energy Share plan, the Government has again kept its commitment to provide Saskatchewan people with the lowest-cost bundle of basic residential utility rates in Canada. As a result of the energy cost assistance part of the Plan, a utility bundle rebate will not be needed for 2005.

"Saskatchewan people have enjoyed the benefits of the lowest-cost bundle of basic residential utility rates in Canada during 2005," Atkinson said. "We have kept our commitment again this year, and we will continue to keep it in the years to come."

"I sincerely hope that the Saskatchewan Energy Share plan will be welcomed by Saskatchewan people," Calvert said. "We are providing the immediate, short-term assistance that people need to help them make the transition to the reality of higher energy costs, and we have a plan that will help us all reduce consumption and use energy more wisely for years to come."

The energy conservation programs to be introduced under the Saskatchewan Energy Share plan, will be announced in detail next week.

For inquiries about your SaskEnergy bill, call toll-free 1-800-567-8899. For general inquiries about the Saskatchewan Energy Share plan, go to www.cicorp.sk.ca or call toll-free 1-866-409-9770.

For more information, contact:

Karen Schmidt
Phone: (306) 787-5889