Electricity hike: 17% solutions

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Yakabuski blamed the increase in power costs on the Liberal government’s reliance on “sweetheart deals” with higher-cost energy producers, such as wind power companies, instead of lower-cost ones such as nuclear power.

As Londoners brace for a 17% jump in their power bill, critics say conservation only goes so far

By RANDY RICHMOND, The London Free Press
July 29th, 2010

Londoner Arnold Hull won’t be helping the city keep a walkway beside his house safe and clean anymore.

A 17% hike in his power bill has persuaded the fixed-income retiree to turn out the spotlights he shines on the public walkway to keep vandals away.

“It just seems to me there is one thing after another after another,” he said. “With the attitude of city hall, and now the massive hike in hydro rates, as fixed-income seniors we have shut off the walkway light.”

Hull isn’t alone in his anger over the recent jump in power rates, coming just days after city council refused to consider giving residential water users a long-urged break on their bills.

Politicians, advocates for the poor and ordinary Londoners are all expressing concern about the latest hit to the pocketbook.

“It’s a real mess the province has created — the hydro bill is becoming an increasingly challenging part of the family budget,” said MPP John Yakabuski, the Progressive Conservative energy critic at Queen’s Park.

People are already doing a lot to conserve energy, he said.

But Yakabuski said people keep getting hit with increases. “Now they are wondering, where is the payback?”

Provincewide, distribution utilities such as London Hydro are passing along costs downloaded to them for higher-priced power — regulated by the province — and new taxation.

But in London, anti-poverty advocates are warning of tough times for lower-income families from the 17% increase in August compared to May.

“The costs are going to impact on everybody, irrespective of their income levels,” said Ross Fair, the city’s manager of community service.

But lower-income residents, especially those relying on electrical heat in winter, will get hit even harder, he said.

Fair expects much more pressure this winter on the city’s Heat and Warmth program, which has $300,000 to help low-income residents with their bills.

“It’s going to be extremely difficult for some families this coming winter,” Controller Gina Barber agreed Wednesday. “People aren’t getting wage increases. Where is the money going to come from?”

Power bills in London are going to rise 17% in August compared to May, thanks to two increases.

The first largely due to the cost of electricity London Hydro buys.

The second is the HST. Ontario is applying the new 13% HST to power bills that were previously subjected only to the 5% federal GST. The new HST blends Ontario’s former sales tax with the GST.

About 2% of the increase to consumers comes from London Hydro hiking its delivery charges.

It doesn’t matter much to Hull where the increases are coming from. He knows where they end up — in his house.

He said he tried for years to get city hall to light the walkway by his house, which draws gangs of teens smoking and drinking.

The city refused, he said, so he put up four motion-detector lights that shine on the path for two minutes every time someone walks by at night.

That stopped the late-night gatherings and the garbage left behind, he said.

“I have decided when the walkway becomes littered I am just going to call city hall and let them clean up the mess.”

Hull said he already does a lot to conserve energy and laughed at one London Hydro idea to lower costs, a tree-planting program to shade houses.

“It’s going to take 50 years for the trees to grow. I’ll be gone by then.”

Yakabuski blamed the increase in power costs on the Liberal government’s reliance on “sweetheart deals” with higher-cost energy producers, such as wind power companies, instead of lower-cost ones such as nuclear power.

A spokesperson for Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid said the province has to turn to clean, renewable and reliable energy sources, rather than dirty and unreliable sources such as coal.

“Although rates have been kept stable over the last number of years, they are starting to increase as we continue to make vital investments in a reliable system and move to clean energy,” Alicia Johnston said in an e-mail.

“We are helping Ontarians manage their electricity costs through tools to conserve — such as time-of-use pricing and conservation programs.”

The province is also developing a program to help lower-income users reduce their consumption and costs, she said.

Conservation and time-of-use of billing — which uses smart meters to charge more for daytime use and less for night use — will help few people overcome the hikes, Yakabuski said.

Seniors, for example, can’t turn down their heat or the air-conditioning during expensive daytime hours because they’re home all day, he said.

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Posted on July 30, 2010, in London Free Press, Media. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Folks this has already been done in PEI. Over the last few years PEI has erected scores of wind turbines and now rates are going up by 10% this year and another 10% next year to pay for the tubines.

    Get this. PEI pays 12 cents per Kwh now and it will go to 15 cents in the next two yers. I kid you not!

    What do you pay, 9 cents or so? How does 15 cents sound to you.

    McGuinty and his commie henchmen feel that if the poor people in PEI can pay 15 cents, so can the rich people of ontario. That’s where you’re heading folks. Better start to kick up a stink now. That’s all I can say.

    You’re warned.

    Oh by thw way, I hear complaints from people who live near the turbines in PEI that they can hear the radio through their fillings. Nice.

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