Protest against high electricity rates planned for London

Join the protest at the London Hydro offices, July 31 at 111 Horton St., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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.

London Free Press

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.

E-mail randy.richmond@sunmedia.ca or follow Randyatlfpress on Twitter.

15 thoughts on “Protest against high electricity rates planned for London

  1. Here’s a good idea! ALL POLITICIANS STAY OUT OF OUR HOMES AND LIVES WITH YOUR STUPID AND IDIOTIC IDEAS OF WHAT WE CAN DO TO ADJUST TO YOUR SELLOUT OF ONTARIO RESOURCES!

  2. This part is truly interesting:

    “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.”

    Clearly someone has done an advanced degree at the Goebbels School of Information Management. Or, perhaps, the did a stint at the Ministry of Truth in the Orwellian School of Future History.

    Regardless, can one of the executives (in their copious free time) dash off a short note to Mr. Minister and request a reference or explanation for the “unreliability” of coal fired electricity plants? Ask them to cite the records on IESO and quote some hard numbers. The we will check their numbers. As well could you ask them to explain why paying an additional $50-$100B for power over the next few years is cheaper than scrubbers for our remaining coal plant?

    Remember, they made the claim of unreliability — it is up to them to prove it… …and include a picture of a calculator in your letter to Mr. Minister showing which way is up on that complicated calculator beast!

    Now I am going to predict that they can’t and therefore won’t prove their claim!

    Cheers!

  3. As far as increases in our electricity bills–we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Just wait until the coal generators are torn down we’ll see then how the turbines will be paid for.
    Most of the bad air problems in Ontario originate from the Ohio River valley. What’s being done about that?
    Maybe offshore turbines facing south and directing the pollution back to where it came from? Don’t hold your breath.

  4. To David Robinson.
    I am by no means defending Duguids spokesperson – but “facts” should be countered with facts, otherwise the discussion goes nowhere.
    I don’t think we are really paying $50 Billion – $100 Billion extra for power over the ‘next few years’ (we are paying more than we should, but not as much as that). You will be counter-asked for back-up data for this fact.
    On “reliability” I believe they are referring to natural gas which has been a little more reliable than coal. It should be noted that it is the articles’ paraphrasing of Alicia Johnstons statements that refers to coal as unreliable – and not her actual quote. The coal plants are by no means unreliable in the conventional sense (85-93% technical availability) – it’s a relative term.
    Despite probable pedantics on the definition of availability, nobody, not even the govt, will argue that wind is reliable.

  5. Only the Wind Energy Companies are supporting the Ontario Liberals “War Against Affordable Energy”…

  6. You’d think that since the Ontario Liberal Government won’t be able to close the coal-fired generating plants , they could at least add some millions for scrubbers to reduce the amount of pollution being generated…That could pass for a GREEN idea….or don’t ideologues do that ???

  7. And then — a miracle occurred…

    http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/842179–why-you-pay-so-much-for-hydro

    A Quote from the article…
    ***********************

    Under the new legislation, there were 10 new charges that cost hydro users at least $1.5 billion on their hydro rates:

    • Corporation taxes paid by OPG and Hydro One.

    • Dividends paid by OPG and Hydro One to their shareholder, the provincial government.

    • Corporation taxes paid by local distributors.

    • Dividends paid by local distributors to their shareholders.

    • Cost of operations of the Ontario Energy Board (previously a provincial expense).

    • Cost of operating the Ontario Power Authority (a new agency).

    • Cost of subsidizing wind power and solar power generation through the Global Investment Fund, now about 4 cents per kWh, hidden in your hydro rate.

    • The GST, although not the PST.

    • Tax on lands held by OPG and Hydro One (not including land used for transmission or distribution lines). Previously, Ontario Hydro had paid property taxes only on buildings.

    • Decommissioning fund and used fuel fund for nuclear plants.

    On top of these, the McGuinty government has added a new set of costs and charges to hydro customers’ bills:

    • Effective May 1, a special service charge to pay for conservation and renewable energy programs.

    • Increase of 9 per cent on energy generation rates to replace lost industrial revenue.

    • The HST, 13 per cent replacing the GST at 5 per cent.

    • Increase in the Global Investment Fund charge to pay for new windmill and solar power programs operated by the Ontario Power Authority.

    • Smart meter program. Some may save under this program if they can manage their load but estimates are a 10 per cent increase for most customers.

    There is no accurate summary of what the extra costs add up to, but the best estimate is about $2 billion. In 2008, OPG alone paid $670 million in business taxes, $128 million in dividends and $151 million in land tax, for a total of $949 million. Hydro One, local distribution utilities and other charges provided the remainder.

  8. Dave, I agree with you. By my math, the total consumption in Ontario last year, at a high estimate of 7 cents/KwH, equates to around $10 billion – residential bills are more than double that (delivery, etc.), but I think 2/3rd of the total is institutional/corporate, and that’s only about 25% added – so maybe $15 billion all in.
    You have a point.
    but …

    The balance sheet, in the last year, had the 2 series of 1500MW FIT awards – and the value of those contracts is about $35 billion. It will take 20 years for that to be actualized, but the accounting will show this year as when that burden was added to the ledger.

  9. 20 Billion is definitely “Chump Change” being stolen from what McGuinty would call a bunch of “Chumps!”

  10. Hi Scott, remember, the average the Capacity Factor of the FIT projects is a range of 13% (solar) to 25% (wind) – and that’s what they get paid on. The one positive aspect of the FIT projects is they don’t produce much energy.

  11. Upgrade the transmission system indeed.

    Funny thing about the transmission system is it is billed as being less efficient – my line loss adjustment ended 2008 at 5.4%, and now it is 8.5%.

    I don’t think this is unique – we all just suddenly used 3% more power. Actually, this additional use was concurrent with smart meter/grid expense being added to delivery charges.

    Now KEPCO is brought in as experts on a project OPG and Hydro One were not even welcome to attempt (they couldn’t participate in FITs).

    Regardless, KEPCO is brought in as transmission experts dealing with the mass of wind and solar to come online.

    So here’s my question. If the transmission loss is 3% more of total production because of the green energy on the grid, and the green energy is 1.6% of all production, how is it ‘green’ — in fact, how is it ‘energy’?

  12. (last post on this, honest)
    KEPCo are also very accomplished and competitive nuclear plant builders…

  13. OK – last post.
    … and coal (and biomass cofiring with coal and scrubbers always was the obvious way to lower emissions)

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