Rate protection scrapped for Hydro One customers

By Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

SPRING BAY—A Spring Bay resident is upset that the provincial government is scrapping legislation designed to regulate the price of electricity for more than 325,000 hydro customers in the province.

“Changes made in 2017-2018 to the Ontario Energy Board Act 1999, along with the Long Term Energy Plan, were intended to give the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) increased oversight to ensure that those using Unit Sub Meter Providers could rely on: “Clarity about what goes into the prices they are charged. Practices regarding disconnections and access to the OEB’s processes to resolve issues regarding the quality of service,” explained Tanya Giles, a Spring Bay resident, quoting from OEB file EB-2017-0371.

“The PC government that campaigned on a yet to be seen promise to reduce hydro bills by 12 percent is now putting those using sub meter providers at risk,” said Ms. Giles.

Global News reported last week that the provincial government is scrapping legislation that aims to regulate the price of electricity for many Hydro One customers. The move has sparked fear among low-income advocates, tenants and condo owners that electricity costs could rise for anyone who pays for their hydro through a sub-metering company.

Global News explained that in the case of one southern Ontario woman, she received assistance through the Ontario Electricity Support Program of about $45 a month toward the cost of her electricity. She says her bills are currently under control but fears removing price protections for customers could change that.

The woman also told Global News she’s had major problems with her landlord and sub-metering companies in the past, including one case where her landlord switched her building from one sub-metering company to another without residents’ consent.

The changes proposed by the Ford government were announced last December as part of its Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, and have all but cancelled the process initiated by the previous Liberal government and the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to regular prices in this sector.

OEB spokesperson Mary Ellen Beninger told Global News if the legislation passes as it currently stands, the OEB would discontinue this process formally ending its efforts to control prices charged by sub-meterers.

Low-income advocates say the government’s proposed changes could lead to higher electricity bills for hundreds of thousands of customers in Ontario and could mean less oversight, less transparency and fewer consumer protections.

Ms. Giles said, “the government should take the OEB seriously when they say they “will discontinue” this process, formally ending its efforts to control prices changed by sub-meterers if this bill passes as written. She added, sections of the bill have already been shown to have issues. “This shows that the energy section of this bill can be just as easily revisited or scrapped as well.”