Hydro One: explaining the unexplainable
Many puzzling over their Hydro One bills might head for the distribution company’s website where, Parker Gallant says, they will be no farther ahead.
It was shortly after Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk, released her damning report on “smart meters” when Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli suggested she got it wrong because “The electricity system is very complex, it’s very difficult to understand.”
Maybe Mr. Chiarelli will say the same thing about the recent “Understand my Bill” posting on Hydro One’s websit, as it misses the mark in several ways. It is seven pages long (should you print it out) which is an indication of just how “complex” the Liberals have made things for electricity consumers.
Here are a few questions:
Why does Hydro One describe their “typical residential customer” as a user of 800 kWh per month but when applying for rate increases they use 1,000 kWh per month?
Why are two (2) charts missing from the website?
Why does the pie chart, “how the money is spent” have “replacing worn out equipment” in one slice and “new or higher rated equipment” in another slice?
Why does the pie chart claim 3% is for administration expenses when their filing with the OEB for the Yearbook of Distributors for 2013 indicates it is 23% of all expenses for their distribution business?
Why is the “Three column chart showing how delivery charges are calculated” missing?
Why does the chart, “A breakdown of your bill” indicate there are only “Over 400 generators” while the OPA/IESO indicates there are over 23,000 contracts?
Why does this chart indicate HST is 12% when it is actually 13%?
Why does the text following the heading “How we deliver electricity” suggest “electricity is created by harnessing other power sources like windmills,” and go on to say “or burning coal across the province”? Is Hydro One unaware that the coal plants have been shuttered?
Why do they claim they have $22 billion in equipment and later on indicate they have spent $7.3 billion in the last three years indicating they would fully replace all their equipment over a nine-year time span but still claim their focus is “on maintaining the performance of our aging infrastructure?” Aren’t most transformers built to last 30 years?
Under “Frequently asked questions” why do they use the smallest recent rate increase in the chart subtitled “How much will my bill increase” which varies from a low of .01% to a high of 7.8%?
Why under this same section the question posed is: “Why are my residential delivery rates increasing? I was told they were going to be reduced” and the answer provided is: “We’re sorry for the confusion. When we applied to the OEB we thought delivery rates would be reduced for a typical residential medium density customer who uses 800 kWh a month.” Why would they suggest that, knowing they applied for a rate increase, and exactly who did Hydro One tell rates were going to be reduced?
Following this and another question the site launches into a confusing array of combining TOU increases and delivery rate increases suggesting increases were effective January 1, 2015 but they are not going to be implemented until May 1, 2015 but an eight-month adjustment period will occur to catch up for the missing increases.
Is it perhaps too much to ask that those 70% of Hydro One employees on the Sunshine List to understand what they are billing their 1.2 million customers?
Minister Chiarelli should provide all Ontario ratepayers with an explanation but I suspect he will repeat that it is too complex to understand.
May 28, 2015