Monday, 9 November 2015

Hydro One rates rise again

Here we go again. Effective November 1, Hydro One power rates went up again. On peak rates went up 25% and off peak rates went up 7.8%. This also means other charges in your hydro bill also went up.

The line I find most difficult to understand is the amount marked Delivery. Oh, there is a lot of fine print at the bottom of your bill what explains it, but after squinting to try and read the fine print, I still have discovered that delivery charges are one third to two thirds of the bill’s bottom line.

That’s outrageous.

On the Hydro One web page, buried deep in the section called “Understand My Bill” is an even longer and more dense section on all the charges found on your bill under section marked “Delivery”. It includes preventing outages, customer service, administration, information technology, responding to outages and upgrading the system. Sounds like they are doing something, right?

The way this is charged is a flat distribution charge, an additional distribution charge of so many cents per kilowatt hour and an amount depending on how much electricity you actually used.

Still following me? I admit that I’m lost, myself.

Then there is a charge of 79 cents for the privilege of having a smart meter (which I have discovered should really be called a dumb meter) . There is also an adjustment for power lost in transmission (an additional charge). Wow. Hydro One has discovered a way to make money from basic physics.

That last amount may matter to you. Hydro One hired a consultant to do a study of power line loss and adjusted the rate for losses so that it will be lower in urban areas but (and I am sure you guessed this) higher in rural areas.

The bottom line for all of this is that the average customer’s bill, including changes in delivery charges and rate increases will be $5.71 a month. Plus HST. Or $6.45 a month. That is $77.40 per year.

Hydro One can do it again, because every regulated item has to be approved by the Ontario Energy Board. The OEB requires every item to be justified. The public an intervene, but I doubt anyone would. How do you argue with a consultant with a PhD? The public is at a huge disadvantage here.

On the bright side, Hydro One has announced a new program to assist people on low income with the cost of their hydro bills. It comes in the form of a billing credit, as opposed to the one time LEAP payment of last winter. It takes effect January , 2016 and will last up to five years. It is funded by a small billing assessment on all Hydro One customers. Call 211 for more information.

I don’t like Hydro One’s attitude on rates. They can justify all they want, but we are all trapped as consumers. They just keep grinding out our money from us and we have no options.

Rev. David Shearman is a retired United Church minister in Owen Sound and the host of Faithworks on Rogers TV - Grey County.