03/09/2015 01:35 EDT | Updated 05/09/2015 05:59 EDT

Hydro-Québec hikes home electricity rates by 2.9%

Quebecers will soon be shelling out more for electricity, as Hydro-Québec rates are set to increase 2.9 per cent on April 1.

The increase, approved by Quebec's Energy Board, is less than the 3.9 per cent hike that Hydro-Québec had requested. 

The rate increase comes on the heels of Hydro-Québec's record-breaking profits posted in 2014.

Quebec's Energy Board estimates the 2015 hike will cost the average household an additional $44 a year. Quebec households already faced a 4.3 per cent hike in 2014, while Hydro-Québec had requested a 5.8 per cent increase. 

The board says the rate increase was prompted mostly by Hydro-Québec's increased costs in purchasing electricity produced by wind energy. Those costs account for 2.1 per cent of the 2.9 per cent increase, according to the board.

Hydro-Québec is also anticipating a decrease in revenues, due to a slowdown in activity in the pulp and paper sector. 

Olivier Bourgeois, energy analyst for the consumer group Option Consommateurs, calls the latest hike "small" but says the rate increases year after year have a cumulative effect.

"When you add up all the increases, the figures become astronomical," said Bourgeois.

Option Consommateurs estimates that electricity rates have increased 28.9 per cent since 2004.  

Hydro-Québec would not comment on the increase.