High hydro rates now a ‘crisis’ for Ontario says social aid agency

If 30 children were sick with measles, it would be a public health crisis, says United Way executive director Francesca Dobbyn. So why isn’t it a crisis when more than 60,000 Ontario families have been cut off from electricity service? And in rural Ontario, no power means, no water. Meanwhile, the Wynne government announces it is spending millions on a network of electric car charging stations between southern Ontario cities.

Rural Ontario ‘in crisis’ due to high hydro rates, local United Way head says

By Denis Langlois, Sun Times, Owen Sound

Soaring hydro costs have created a crisis situation in Ontario that is especially concerning in rural areas like Grey-Bruce, says the head of one of the local agencies that is helping people to keep their lights on.
Francesca Dobbyn, executive director of the United Way of Bruce Grey, which has released a report on utility assistance provided to households in the region over the past year, pointed to national news reports that quote the Ontario Energy Board as saying nearly 60,000 residential customers were disconnected in 2015 from hydro services due to non-payment. That number was confirmed by The Sun Times Friday.
“If we had 30 kids in Ontario with the measles, we’d have a health crisis. With 60,000 households in Ontario who were disconnected from hydro, that’s a crisis. And in rural Ontario, when that disconnection means you can’t use your well, that’s a public health crisis,” she said in an interview.
The local United Way’s report found that from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, the United Way, along with Bruce and Grey counties, Y Housing and the Salvation Army in Wiarton distributed nearly $750,000 to help people with hydro or natural gas arrears or to purchase wood, oil or propane to heat their homes.
That figure rises to more than $1 million, the report says, when factoring in the staff time and resources provided by the agencies.
Dobbyn said while that number alone is startling and points to a “crisis brewing in our region,” it doesn’t include the financial assistance provided to people by other sources, such as churches or other organizations or by family members or friends.
The report says electricity costs have climbed by 100 per cent in the past decade.
Rural residents have been hardest hit, Dobbyn said, because they are charged higher delivery costs by utility companies.
Rural residents, on average, pay almost double the delivery rates compared to households in “urban high density” areas, according to the United Way report.
An average household in a low-density area is charged about $84.46 for delivery, distribution, connection, network and other fees, the report says, while homes in high-density areas pay about $44.50. And that’s without using any energy at all, it says.
Homes that use baseboards for heat pay about $80 a month in hydro rates on top of the delivery fees.
“And that’s before turning on a light or using a microwave or any other source of electricity,” Dobbyn said.
The numbers, she said, show that even while conserving energy in the home, people in rural areas are still facing high monthly hydro bills.
“Our clients, our families are not wasteful. They do everything they can to reduce consumption, they unplug everything and we often advise them to turn breakers off in an effort to reduce their bill,” she said.
Dobbyn said for some families in Grey-Bruce who live in geared-to-income housing with baseboard heaters, the cost of hydro is more than the price of rent.
The new Ontario Energy Savings Program, which gives qualifying consumers $30 to $50 per month relief, is not enough to prevent disconnections, she said. And those disconnections can have far-reaching consequences, she added.
Facing or experiencing a disconnection can affect a person’s mental health, she said, and cause incredible stress, which can make them sick. That puts a further strain on Ontario’s health care system and can lead to lost time at work.
Dobbyn said she has heard from many people who have become obsessed with keeping their energy use low. They frequently check their hydro usage online and unplug devices like coffeemakers, microwaves, televisions and computers right after using them. Dobbyn said she would like to see more measures put in place to help reduce hydro costs for rural residents. She would like to see, for example, delivery fees spread evenly among all hydro users in Ontario, as is done in Quebec, so rural residents aren’t shouldering such high costs.
“What we have now is a user-pay system and that’s not fair,” she said.
Conservation programs “that actually have an impact,” can also help, she said, such as those that cover the cost of window replacements and insulation to make homes more energy efficient. However, Dobbyn cautioned that hydro conservation has been known to lead to increases in the costs of electricity.
For example, the Ontario Energy Board said one of the main reasons for the increase to hydro rates last May was because Ontarians consumed less electricity over the recent milder winter, so Regulated Price Plan prices did not recover the full cost of serving RPP customers. …

Read the full story here.

What's your reaction?


  • Pat Cusack
    Posted August 1, 2016 1:01 pm 0Likes


  • Jjoe
    Posted August 1, 2016 1:16 pm 0Likes

    I agree Pat. However, I do wonder how the number cut off compares with, say, 15 years ago. The compared figures would have to be adjusted for the increase in the numbers of customers. Natural gas arreas were also mentioned. A disgrace but not a Hydro problem.

    • Wind Concerns Ontario
      Posted August 1, 2016 1:50 pm 0Likes

      Parker Gallant’s analysis always is on a per customer basis. He has done reporting on electricity bills back 10 years in some of his articles. You can access them on this website under the Category Parker Gallant, and on the Financial Post website under Ontario’s Power Trip.

  • Grant Church
    Posted August 1, 2016 3:00 pm 0Likes

    Just wait till the nuclear refurbishment costs start adding to the price of power–$12.8 billion for Darlington and $13 billion for Bruce Power. Better start replacing those appliances that run on electricity with ones that run on natural gas if you have it. If not, consider propane, oil, or wood.

    • Tom
      Posted August 1, 2016 11:55 pm 0Likes

      Bruce power is a private company so it won’t cost us a nickel and Darlington will be well worth the $12.8 when you consider the alternatives.

      • Grant Church
        Posted August 2, 2016 4:23 am 0Likes

        The price Bruce Power will get will increase from 6.57 cents/kWh to 7.7 cents/kWh as each reactor is finished. That’s an 18% increase. They’re not doing it for free. But that’s not bad in the scope of things.

  • Jjoe
    Posted August 1, 2016 3:41 pm 0Likes

    Are you against refurbishment? What would you propose to replace the capacity with?

    • Grant Church
      Posted August 1, 2016 4:06 pm 0Likes

      I’m not against refurbishment.

  • Jjoe
    Posted August 1, 2016 4:10 pm 0Likes

    You are correct that it is a huge ticket item.

  • Pat Cusack
    Posted August 1, 2016 5:41 pm 0Likes

    Check the ownership of Enbridge. Bernie

  • Gord Schneider
    Posted August 1, 2016 5:46 pm 0Likes

    This is an absolute travesty. What gets me is why isn’t the opposition hammering this government on a daily basis, and why isn’t the MSN interested in this? Such a bluidy shame.

    • Tom
      Posted August 1, 2016 11:57 pm 0Likes

      One reason is that they are not sitting right now.

    • Wind Concerns Ontario
      Posted August 2, 2016 6:58 am 0Likes

      The Legislature has risen for summer break but Patrick Brown of the PCPO recently called for Premier Wynne’s resignation over this and the NDP are blaming the sale of Hydro One. Global TV has been carrying the story; you can find clips on their website or on our Facebook page. But we agree, this has gone on far too long and drastic action iss needed, now.

  • Jjoe
    Posted August 1, 2016 5:59 pm 0Likes

    Gord esactly what are referring to?

  • notinduttondunwich
    Posted August 2, 2016 8:06 am 0Likes

    It is sickening to have a government that refuses to stop any and all GEA projects wheather they be wind or solar!!!! The liberals are financially breaking the backs of ALL ontario residents and businesses and setting us up for a recession!!!! They are ignoring the health complaints!!! They are allowing total devistation of bird and bat populations!!!! They are allowing contamination of our drinking water!!!! Forget about summer vacation someone needs to grab Ole Katty Wynnd and bring her forth to answer to the citizens of Ontario! !!! Again the people of Ontario are in a crisis and there is no leadership to direct us out of peril!!!! So sad that rural ontarions are the piss pot for liberal idealology!!! Again so disappointed and angry in DD !!!! Come fall Ole Katty Wynnd will step up in the house all refreshed from her summer vacation and start waving her evil GEA wand over all the rural pheasants!!!
    Mirror mirror on the wall.. green energy for them all!!!!!
    Mwahahahahaha! !!!
    Solar for you!!!!
    IWT for you!!!!
    Garbage dump for you!!!!
    More IWT for you!!!
    That’ll fix them!!!!

  • Sommer
    Posted August 2, 2016 8:32 am 0Likes

    The agenda is to gradually and consistently reduce the quality of life for people in rural Ontario so that they feel forced to migrate into cities.
    This is part of the U.N’s Agenda 30. It is being promoted by this government.
    Using industrial wind turbines to make our homes uninhabitable is just one method. Rising electricity costs foisted on rural people is another.
    This is a global agenda. People everywhere are resisting it. Some are being successful in their resistance.
    The government rationale for this agenda is based on alarmist man-made climate change and the idea that we can prevent the climate from changing in significant ways by relocating people to ‘human settlements’ and filling the countryside with industrial scale turbines and their infrastructure. There is enough information to credibly argue this rationale.
    If we don’t successfully turn this around now, our collective future is in the hands of people who are proceeding with certainty and yet unaware that there is a raging controversy within the scientific community on these issues. Some are even willing to call this alarmist based agenda a complete ‘hoax’.

    • Sommer
      Posted August 2, 2016 10:48 am 0Likes

      Here’s an article with comments on an event in September that will be videotaped and viewable via youtube.

    • Brenda Brown
      Posted August 2, 2016 4:58 pm 0Likes

      Spot on Sommer ,sadly not enough of the sheep are awake to see what this whole thing is about . We are all in a great deal of trouble,false flags made by the governments and their constant fear mongering, everyone needs to wake up and start preparing for very hard times. With the Bankster bailins implemented into the federal budget of 2016 2017 research what this has done to Greece, Venezuela is in shambles and it is only a matter of time before it hits here . People need to start stocking up with food and such and please remove your money OUT OF THE CRIMINAL BANKS before the bailins are implemented and you lose all your money ! Stop listening to the false stream media it is owned by the 1 percent and they are lying to us all ,turn off the TELL LIE VISION ,radios ,throw out the newspapers and magazines,and stop playing along to their distractions .

    • Jjoe
      Posted August 3, 2016 7:12 pm 0Likes

      Sommer. I doubt the government has a plan to drive rural residents to the cities. The increase in infrastructure costs would be way too high. $160 billion is scheduled to be spent over the next 12 years as it is. A urban migration would increase this price tag even more. In the last election the Liberals received a lot of their electoral support from urban areas. Would they willingly dilute this support? Why is the province investing in rural areas such as mine if they want us to leave? Provincial money recently help establish many jobs in my rural area. So, more people can remain here. As for the UN. I did a quick skim of the UN’s Agenda 30. Where does it outline forced migration?

  • notinduttondunwich
    Posted August 2, 2016 8:51 am 0Likes

    Sommer….. you forgot DEPOPULIZATION !!!! we all can’t fit in the city!!!

  • Grant Church
    Posted August 2, 2016 9:25 am 0Likes

    Checking further on what Darlington will cost, OPG is asking for a 69% increase in the price of nuclear power. Ouch!

  • notinduttondunwich
    Posted August 2, 2016 9:31 am 0Likes

    Do it!!!! It’ll be cheaper in the long run!!! Stop putting up unreliable subsidized solar and IWT projects!!!

  • Barbara
    Posted August 2, 2016 1:46 pm 0Likes

    The government was told that their energy policies would affect the poor.
    And it’s unfortunate that something can only be proved after the fact and not before the fact.

  • Dave's Not Here
    Posted August 2, 2016 9:04 pm 0Likes

    I hope you folks aren’t betting the future on the PC party to fix anything. They are the ones who started us down this road of privatization and giving the goods over to Bay Street and government friends. McGuinty and Wynne have only continued the gravy train for their friends. The PCs are only using this issue to be elected and had they been in power the privatization and gouging would have gone on unabated and maybe have been even worse by now.

    • Barbara
      Posted August 3, 2016 12:55 pm 0Likes

      Even after the old Hydro was split, these new companies were still owned by the Government of Ontario as the only shareholder.
      This is private ownership? If so, then the present government could not have sold any of Hydro One.

      • Jjoe
        Posted August 3, 2016 5:07 pm 0Likes

        Barbara. The Conservatives were getting ready to sell out. The political climate and then the election thwarted their efforts. All three parties have contributed to the mess we are in. The Liberals have done some good things and so truly gad awful things with the Hydro file.

        • Barbara
          Posted August 3, 2016 8:13 pm 0Likes

          True, the PCs were going to sell out.
          But the Libs have had about 12 years to make the mess much, much bigger. They could have stopped this but chose to proceed.
          Wynne could have stopped this back in early 2013 when she took office.
          Playing the blame game again.

          • Jjoe
            Posted August 4, 2016 7:10 am 0Likes

            There is blame enough for all parties. The only good thing about the sale is the fact that a fair market value of the shares was obtained. There was no give away like Highway 407. I would have preferred that the Hydro system remained under public ownership. The Liberals, it seems, to have done everything they can to make sure the public does not get screwed under this deal. We will have to see how the deal holds up when the next party takes over. If the next party to take over is the Conservatives what will they do? They were in favour of a sell off, they are now against it, what does the future hold?

          • Jjoe
            Posted August 4, 2016 7:26 am 0Likes

            The Liberals have done some good things in the Hydro file. These have tended to be overshadowed by the wind/ solar complaints. Hydro had a huge debt which was not apddressed by previous governments. The Liberals tackled it. Refurbishment of nuclear plants and other generators has been planned and, in some cases, finished. The Big Becky penstock tunnel in Niagara Falls, as an example. Some new dams set up. Keep in mind that accessible dam sites in Ontario have mostly been developed now. All these are big ticket items that almost any government in power would have to face unless they chose to ignore them. One of the reasons we are in a mess now is that too many governments in the past ignored the problems and kicked the can down the road.

          • Barbara
            Posted August 4, 2016 8:47 pm 0Likes

            Details of this boring machine purchase have been posted but this was quite awhile ago.
            A hard rock boring machine was purchased when a soft rock boring machine was needed.
            The Falls area is shale and not hard rock. For example coal is a type of shale.
            Don’t have time right now to go back to this issue but try an internet search on this issue. Try hard rock boring machine and Niagara Falls tunnel/Big Beckey.
            Wonder where this machine is now?

        • Barbara
          Posted August 4, 2016 12:44 pm 0Likes

          Big Becky with its cost over-runs and the government didn’t even know enough to purchase the right kind of boring machine to do the tunnel work at the Falls.
          Seems the government doesn’t know which kinds of machines work and which don’t.

          • Jjoe
            Posted August 4, 2016 2:34 pm 0Likes

            Barbara. The cost overrun was caused by hitting a layer of loose rock that made boring part of the original route impossible. I have not read anywhere that a different type of machine would have been able to handle the job better. Are you saying the government ignored expert advice? If so, a citation please. Your allegation is shocking if it is true.

        • Barbara
          Posted August 4, 2016 10:11 pm 0Likes

          Internet search
          ‘Niagara tunnel project running into more problems | CTV Toron …’, March 4, 2008
          ‘Niagara tunnel boring machine broken | Toronto Star’, Dec.8, 2010
          You can start with these articles. This goes back several years.

          • Jjoe
            Posted August 5, 2016 6:53 am 0Likes

            Thanks Barbara. The references you provided back up information I found. Neither article you provided states that the wrong type of boring machine was used. Instead, unforeseen rock conditions are cited as the problem. So far, I have not found even one reference to the wrong type of machine used in the several sources I read.
            The following quotes come from the references you provided. “But unexpected geological conditions caused delays and forced the tunnel to take a longer route than planned.” “The contractor for the project, the Austrian company Strabag AG, was deemed not responsible for the unexpected rock conditions so the cost overrun is being borne by OPG” (Toronto Star).
            “A big drill burrowing a tunnel beneath Niagara Falls is encountering more problems as it has hit fracture rock formations that are proving difficult to punch through.” “The stubborn rock formations could delay the $1 billion project more than a year past its original complete date of fall 2009.” “The initiative is already six months behind schedule because of the difficult fracture rock formations and because the tunnel walls have been unstable, which has caused boulders the size of cars to fall onto the massive drilling machine.” CTV

        • Barbara
          Posted August 5, 2016 10:19 am 0Likes

          “Unexpected geological conditions” is a nice way of explaining the situation.
          Anyway you have to dig deeper for more information.
          Was there something about this would only be used as night to produce power so as to not to cut off more water going over the Falls which might up-set the tourist trade?
          Anyway it’s an interesting topic.

          • Barbara
            Posted August 5, 2016 3:25 pm 0Likes

            So the Falls are now tapped-out for hydro power.
            Next move on to small hydro projects as a source of power.

          • Jjoe
            Posted August 12, 2016 8:02 am 0Likes

            There is a treaty with the US about minimum amount of water flow for day and night. This treaty governs how much water each side can take. With the completion of this latest tunnel the falls is maxed out on water diversions for power generation. Some water is diverted in the day. A larger quantity of water is diverted away from the falls at night. The even larger decrease in flow is not as noticeable.

          • Jjoe
            Posted August 12, 2016 8:15 am 0Likes

            “To preserve Niagara Falls’ natural beauty, a 1950 treaty signed by the U.S. and Canada limited water usage by the power plants. The treaty allows higher summertime diversion at night when tourists are fewer and during the winter months when there are even fewer tourists.[30] This treaty, designed to ensure an “unbroken curtain of water” flowing over the falls, states that during daylight time during the tourist season (April 1 to October 31) there must be 100,000 cubic feet per second (2,800 m3/s) of water flowing over the falls, and during the night and off-tourist season there must be 50,000 cubic feet per second (1,400 m3/s) of water flowing over the falls.”

  • notinduttondunwich
    Posted August 3, 2016 11:58 am 0Likes

    So then let’s continue on the same path eh there dave??? Over 60000 hydro one disconnects last year alone!!! Probably another 500000 struggling to pay hydro!!! 2700 and climbing registered health complaints!!! Tens of thousands of birds and bats mutilated and killed!!!! Problems with ground water now!!!! Have you lost your mind dave!!!!! I don’t care who you vote for your logical sense should have clicked in by now!!!! ???? Liberals have been selling us out for years and are continuing to do so now….
    your name says it all !!!!!
    Dave’s not here!!

  • Tony
    Posted August 3, 2016 4:13 pm 0Likes

    they will spend 26 billion on those plants

    • Barbara
      Posted August 3, 2016 8:17 pm 0Likes

      At least nuclear does work! Wind and solar have zero reliability.

  • Barbara
    Posted August 5, 2016 3:30 pm 0Likes

    Seattle Times, March 2, 2016
    ‘Carbon Tax Initiative Goes To November Ballot’
    First state in the U.S.
    At least the voters there can vote on this issue and not have this imposed on them.

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