by Connie Woodcock, Toronto Sun
I’m having trouble staying interested in the federal election campaign.
There’s another campaign gearing up that I’m more excited about — and I think of it every time I turn on a light. The provincial election is coming up this fall and I can’t wait for Ontario voters to send Dalton McGuinty a message: Our electricity bills are way too high and it’s your fault.
And it’s hard to get it off my mind because my household goes on time-of-use electricity billing Monday — a constant reminder of exactly how much more money is coming out of our pockets to pay for the Liberal government’s flawed energy program.
To prepare for the big day, my family of three has been in dress rehearsals for the last two weeks trying to use less power during the peak billing period during the day and do more in the off-peak rate period starting at 9 p.m.
It hasn’t been going well.
My dining room is normally sunny, but it’s a cloudy day so I’m sitting in front of my laptop in thick gloom because we’ve been shutting off lights, even when we need them.
Then there’s the dishwasher. They don’t usually come with timers so I often forget to turn ours on before bedtime. Next morning, I’m facing running the machine at nearly 10¢ per kwH instead of 5.1¢ for off-peak or 8.1¢ for mid-peak.
The other night, to remind me, I resorted to setting the stove timer to go off in the middle of the national news.
Because we live in the country, we have another electricity user we need to remember — the water pump. If you turn on a tap for more than two seconds, the pump silently goes to work and it’s not a good idea to go to sleep leaving water running, in case it malfunctions.
Washers and dryers don’t have timers either and doing laundry late at night isn’t my idea of normal life. So for two weeks, I’ve been doing it on the weekend, so I can avoid the high weekday rates. It’s worked — in a way. But every now and then some household emergency comes along.
We still need to install power bars on the three TV and satellite boxes in the house but then, of course, you have to remember to use them.
Last month, along with our time-of-use notification, Hydro One helpfully sent us a package of coupons for discounts on items I mostly don’t need — a new air conditioner or low-flow shower heads. Like most people, we’ve done most of the little things already and we don’t even have air conditioning.
But the big problem is that we work at home. There’s no excuse for us to soak up somebody else’s electricity during the day. There are only so many changes we can make to keep our bill from skyrocketing — which is what almost always happens, even though the government tried to sell smart meters as money savers. They’re not.
Everywhere smart meters have been tried, they’ve caused pricing outrage — from Marietta, Georgia, to Portland, Maine, from Springfield, Missouri, to Salinas, California, there’s been nothing but trouble.
In Ontario, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says they’re a billion-dollar tax grab he’d eliminate if he’s elected.
My bill isn’t holding me hostage in my house — yet — but with rates going up 46%, many people are facing unaffordable power, all because successive governments have not been able to get the electricity provider under control. The McGuinty government has made things much, much worse by forcing an unaffordable alternative energy program on us while eliminating coal-fired generating plants and dragging its feet on new nuclear facilities.
So it’s no wonder many Ontarians may be having trouble paying much attention to the federal election campaign. The feds aren’t making our lives miserable on a daily basis. The McGuinty Liberals are.