The Saskatchewan Rate Review Panel has approved SaskPower’s request for a 4.9 per cent rate increase.

In its report, the panel says the Crown corporation must make capital investments of about $10 billion over the next decade.

It notes that SaskPower’s increasing reliance on natural gas to generate electricity could also put upward pressure on rates if the commodity price rises.

If approved by the provincial government, the proposed rate hike would take effect Jan. 1, 2013.