The University of Western Ontario’s (UWO) publication, Western News, recently published a news item about their annual electricity bill. The bill for UWO was reported as $25 million in 2011 and the writer incorrectly blamed 25% of that bill on what they called a Global Adjustment (GA) “tax”. The author tried to explain what the GA represented but many of the facts were wrong. One thing the writer was correct on was that UWO was a “Class A” customer, because they consume in excess of 5,000 kWh per month-the cutoff point for large users.
Class A and B customers were created after lobbying by the Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario (42 members) but the benefits of this classification didn’t come into play until January 1, 2011. Class A customers are able to reduce their costs of electricity by picking 5 peak demand hours that occur over a 12 month period, This task can be predicted with relative accuracy by looking at Ontario’s electricity peak demand patterns which occur on hot days in the summer in the hours close to dinner. Once the hours are picked the Class A customer can fire up the diesel backup generator to reduce their demand on the grid and the shift is complete. As Aegent Energy reported the shift in 2011 reduced the GA Class A customers paid by $10.97 a MW or 28.7% less then they would have paid under the previous system. This shift reduced the Class A customer’s share of the GA while increasing the share paid by Class B ratepayers. For 2011 that shift cost Class B ratepayers $225 million. The amount of that shift will increase in the current year as the GA pot grows to over $7 billion from $5.1 billion in 2011. For 2012 the shift will be over $300 million and close to 40% less for the Class A consumers under the old system.
When created the Class A group was portrayed as a means for Ontario’s manufacturing sector to secure competitive electricity pricing but it didn’t distinguish between private and public sector entities. Those Class A public sector customers ironically include those who produce most of the electricity generation, transmission and distribution that Class B ratepayers are subsidizing through this shift. While there is no list of public sector Class A companies it is assumed they include Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation, Toronto Hydro, OLG, LCBO, York University, Toronto General Hospital, University of Toronto, etc., etc. many of whom are in the MUSH (municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals) category.
It certainly appears the Western News article was correct by referring to the GA as a tax. That “tax” was exacerbated by the changes announced in Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan’s budget (endorsed by the NDP) wherein he reduced the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit for Class B customers utilizing more then 3,000 kWh per month immediately impacting small and medium sized businesses (job creators) and a large number of Ontario farmers.
In summary, the Ministry of Energy’s plan to reduce Ontario’s peak electricity demand is: use “dirty” diesel generators while simultaneously creating a hidden stealth tax on Ontario’s Class B ratepayers.
June 22, 2012