A day in the life of an Ontario electricity customer


We are bombarded with information these days but in Ontario much of it is all about our electricity bills. Take yesterday, for example.
An e-mail exchange with a senior officer (earning $450,000 annually) at the Ontario Power Authority on issues surrounding the revised Long-Term Energy Plan left me shaking my head as the “snow job” continues.  The message from the Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli is, basically, all Ontario’s ratepayers are stupid.
Then Canada Post delivered a form letter apology from Carmine Marcello, President and CEO of Hydro One.  The letter told me that their billing system is a mess and he was really sorry about that.  How much did that letter cost me? Hydro One presumably paid 63 cents for the postage and with 1,221,036 customers (December 31, 2013) the cost of that letter to the ratepayers of the province was probably close to $2 million.  No doubt Hydro One will include that cost in their next request for a rate increase (along with the costs of repairing that messed up billing system), so we will pay for that in our delivery rates. 
Hydro One also wants the opportunity to mess up more bills as they are trying to acquire another four small electricity distributors in the province.  Weren’t they the distributor that spent $700.54 each for those smart meters that are now not communicating?   Carmine didn’t mention that; he just told me it might take a while to sort out the problems.
Then someone sent me an interesting article about a curling rinkin Welland that may be forced to close its doors because of electricity bills.   One curling rink doesn’t employ many people but if, say, 60 of them close throughout the province, the job losses will add up. 
And speaking of job losses, the news from Thunder Bay where the local coal plant is being converted to biomass is that 50 jobs will be lost.  The reported payroll of those lost jobs with OPG was $4.5 million meaning those jobs averaged $90K each (plus benefits?).   Not too shabby!  Several local politicians met with Minister Chiarelli to express their concern about the way Northern Ontario is being treated and he said “he was confident with the information he has received from his advisors, particularly Ontario Power Generation.”   He said that, despite the fact that it was his Ministry that produced both the original and the revised Long-Term Energy Plan and issued the directive to convert the plant from coal.  Makes one wonder where the Ontario Power Authority fit into the planning process and do we really need them and those employees earning $450K?
Then I saw a releasefrom the Association of Major Power Consumers of Ontario (AMPCO) who expressed concern about Ontario’s electricity rates for large industrial users. Ontario has the most expensive electricity in Canada and the nearby U.S. states, AMPCO says.  They want lower rates even though they are already being subsidized by the rest of Ontario’s ratepayers.   AMPCO have joined the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Coalitionof Ontario Manufacturers for Competitive Industrial Power Rates in lobbying efforts for lower electricity rates.  Who will pick up the bill for what they want? Probably the residential ratepayers of the province who don’t have a lobby group.   Residential ratepayers (information released by the Ministry of Energy) consumed 29% of all electricity generated in the province in 2013, but somehow are being looked on as having the ability to now subsidize all of the other ratepayer groups in the Province.  
Finally the last item received today was an invitation to participate (listen) in what is referred to as the Canadian Energy Innovation Summit hosted by Premier Kathleen Wynne at the charity, MaRS Discovery District.  For the MaRS year end of March 31, 2013 they reported gross revenue of $46.8 million and received charitable donations of $129,000 or .28% (slightly more than one-quarter of 1%) of their gross revenue, but received $28.4 million  or 60.7% of their gross revenue from government grants (principally the Province of Ontario).  MaRS have received approximately $200 million from the Liberal coffers (taxpayers) since the party won the election in 2003. 
As a residential ratepayer,  it seems as if there is money available to support the lobbying efforts of the groups looking for lower electricity rates, but it is being directed to those close to those in positions of power and political influence. Not a great day for the ordinary Ontario citizen.
©Parker Gallant
February 27, 2014
The views expressed are those of the author and do not represent Wind Concerns Ontario policy.

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