Sask. utilities to finance rural hookup costs

Crown-owned utilities SaskPower and SaskTel will offer new financing programs for what could otherwise be cost-prohibitive new connections to electricity and phone service.

Starting June 1, SaskPower will finance new residential and farm customers whose electricity connection costs are over $1,000, and commercial customers where such costs are over $5,000.

SaskPower’s “New Connects” program will include a minimum 25 per cent down payment. The maximum loan per customer will be $2 million.

Also starting June 1, SaskTel will provide a similar financing plan to rural-based business customers where phone connection costs exceed $5,000, with a minimum down payment of 25 per cent.

“These financing programs will provide support for new and expanded businesses in the province, especially in rural Saskatchewan — where utility connection costs can be highest,” said provincial Crown Corporations Minister Ken Cheveldayoff in a release Thursday.

“Providing these financing options is one way our Crowns are working to accommodate the needs of all new customers — those who currently live here and those making the move to our province.”

On approved credit, these loans will be offered at rates no less than the Crown corporation’s cost of capital, plus administrative costs. Each utility’s program also includes a “reasonable risk premium where appropriate,” the province said.

Another Crown corporation, SaskEnergy, has offered a similar financing program for new natural gas hookups since 1998. Its program will finance a new SaskEnergy natural gas line or an alteration to existing SaskEnergy facilities.

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