Why Ontarians Continue Having Trouble Paying For Electricity

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high electricity bills

[See Comments at the end of this article for updates Ed.] “All my pension goes to pay my electricity” – constituent.     With Ontario boasting the highest energy prices in North America, quite honestly I don’t know how some people get by. When people bring their electricity bills into my office, it provides a line-by-line window on just how difficult it has become to pay the bills.

Recently I met with a couple who live in a modest 790 square foot house – they heat with one electric space heater, have been wearing heavy sweaters all winter and are doing absolutely everything they can to keep costs down. But their hydro bill for January was $641.67 — $233.89 of which was delivery charge. During the meeting I was told: “All my pension goes to pay my electricity.”

Nowadays if you can’t afford your electricity, in many cases, you don’t have the option of paying interest or getting caught up later – your service is simply shut off. To have service reconnected is often hundreds of dollars. If someone can’t afford their bills in the first place how will they ever be able to pay exorbitant fees for reconnection? Apart from closing down cheap coal generation, there are many reasons why hydro has skyrocketed.

For example, the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) Program pays out massive subsidies for wind and solar contracts to produce power we don’t need. This continues to drive up the cost of electricity which rose by 26 per cent between 2008 and 2010 – projected to rise another 46 per cent by the end of this year. The FIT Program, with its overly-generous payments, will cost taxpayers $4.4 billion more than the previous Standard Offer Program. Wind generators operate at 28 per cent capacity and their output is out of phase with electricity demand during certain times of the day.

You can’t store electricity, so we pay the U.S. and Quebec to take the surplus power off our hands. We’ve paid them $1.8 billion over the past six years. Their industries use this cheap power to compete even harder with our manufacturers, and so the downward spiral continues.

If you’re a large user, look for the words ‘Global Adjustment’ on your hydro bill. Simply put, Global Adjustment covers the spread between market price and guaranteed price paid to generators, plus the cost of paying standby natural gas plants not to produce electricity, as well as paying for conservation programs. One North Bay manufacturer had a Global Adjustment — nonexistent on their 2009 hydro bills — of $1,700 on their electricity charge of $1,400 for that month. The Global Adjustment is expected to increase tenfold, from $700 million in 2006 to $8.1 billion in 2014. This will certainly cause more Ontario manufacturers to close up shop and move to cheaper locales.

Also, watch for the Smart Meter charges to hit home. The computer system cost $250 million, and the bill is now due.

Let’s not forget the cancellation of the Oakville power plant and cancelling, demolishing and relocating the Mississauga power plant. These cancellations were nothing more than political ‘seat savers’ for the last election and will cost taxpayers $1.1 billion.

Click me!

Click me!

In many ways the Green Energy Act  put the desires of the renewable power industry ahead of the needs of people and Ontario businesses – a perfect formula for killing jobs and crippling consumers. For the Silo, MPP Toby Barrett

DID YOU KNOW?- Norfolk Power (and in fact all Ontario Municipal power companies to the best of our knowledge-CP) has a 13 days past due policy for Service Termination Proceedings. Even small “ma and pa” businesses provide 30 day terms and even 60-90day terms before sending out Collection Letters or Warning Letters. We contacted Norfolk Power and were told that “it’s standard policy- set by Ontario’s Energy Board”. Hmmm- that sounded like a standard “sub-standard” explanation to us, so a bit of research showed that the Ontario Energy Board is a self-regulated, internally filled board that sounds impartial but is anything but- in fact we were unable to determine exactly who or how board positions are filled, never a good sign for impartiality. If you decide to call them at 416 481 1967 be ready for one of the most confusing answering services you will ever find. Messages prompt you with a never ending supply of websites and telephone numbers- finally if you are persistent enough you will be asked to “press 9” to consent for your personal information to be gathered, recorded and used by the Ontario Energy Board- not exactly consumer friendly. I suppose you could always speak with one of the Public Information Officer but then they will refer you to media relations. You won’t be transferred (we were told they aren’t allowed to) so keep a document open and handy- 416 544 5171 and then the process begins again only this time you are immediately connected with an answering machine asking for your credentials.  *sigh Fifteen minutes later from when we started our initial inquiry we realized we might as well be prospecting for dare we say it “oil”. [Update- Many Municipal aka “County” Hydro companies including Norfolk Power have sold their electricity services to Hydro One but have held onto their Water services. Ontarians will now receive a separate bill for Water and a separate bill for electricity. Perhaps more confusing, in Spring of 2015 Ontario announced that it would sell 15% of its Hydro One holdings in an IPO plan that will eventually sell off another 45% in order to raise money for debt repayment, transportation and infrastructure programs. Targeted buyers would be Canada’s largest pension plans. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-16/ontario-to-sell-15-of-hydro-one-one-of-biggest-ipos Ed. ]

 

 

If you have the brain power – take a look at this excerpt from the Energy Board’s website- listing (in broad terms) changes to Ontario’s energy act- which ultimately affects consumers in Ontario and their payment and use of energy:

 

1907-1959

The Natural Gas and Oil Wells Act marked the Province’s early concern for the proper management of its energy resources – a concern that evolved through the Natural Gas Act of 1918, the Natural Gas Conservation Act of 1921 and the Ontario Fuel Board Act of 1954.

1960-1998

The Ontario Energy Board Act, 1960 created the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) as a successor to the Ontario Fuel Board. The OEB was authorized to set just and reasonable rates for the sale and storage of gas and to make orders granting leave to construct pipelines for the transmission of oil or gas to expropriate land for oil or gas pipes.The Ontario Energy Act, 1964 clarified certain powers of the OEB and strengthened the sections dealing with gas storage. An amendment to this Act in  1965 set out the ground rules for the OEB in determining the rate base of gas utilities and giving the OEB power to make regulations prescribing a uniform system of accounts for gas companies.On June 7, 1973, the Premier announced the establishment of the Ministry of Energy which would include the OEB. Further amendments were made to the Ontario Energy Board Act which included provisions for the appointment of additional board members and making the OEB responsible for annual reviews of rate and rate-related matters of Ontario Hydro.In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the oil crisis developed in the Middle East, causing natural gas prices to soar. Ontario Hydro turned to nuclear generation and the public became conservation conscious. During that time, the Board decided on hundreds of natural gas applications and conducted major reviews of Ontario Hydro rates.

1998

The mandate of the Board changed significantly with the passage of the Energy Competition Act, 1998 (ECA)  The ultimate goal of the ECA was the creation of a competitive market in the electricity and natural gas industries.To achieve the goal of creating a competitive market in the electricity industry, the former Ontario Hydro monopoly was replaced by several business entities including two distinct commercial companies, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Hydro One Inc., and one Crown corporation, the Independent Electricity Market Operator, now known as the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). OPG has taken responsibility for the generation of electricity while Hydro One owns and maintains transmission and distribution wires. The IESO manages the province’s electricity system and operates the wholesale electricity market.  The OEB had varying degrees of regulatory authority over all three corporations as well as the province’s municipal electric utilities.The OEB became responsible for regulating local distribution companies and  for ensuring that the distribution companies fulfill their obligations to connect and serve their customers. The OEB also became responsible for licensing certain participants in the market.  The OEB regulated all market participants in the province’s natural gas and electricity industries and it provided advice on energy matters referred to it by the Minister of Energy and/or the Minister of Natural Resources.

2002

On May 1, 2002, Ontario’s new electricity market opened. The new market was the culmination of over five years of work by the electricity industry, government, the OEB, the IESO and many other market participants. The generation of electricity became a competitive activity, with electricity bought and sold on the new spot market at competitive prices. The IESO successfully began operating the wholesale market.Over the summer of 2002, record-high temperatures drove up the demand for electricity as well as the market price, which resulted in considerable consumer concern. In response, the government introduced the Electricity Pricing, Conservation and Supply  Act, 2002. This legislation, which received Royal Assent on December 9, 2002, capped the price of electricity at 4.3 cents per kilowatt hour for residential, small-business and other designated low-volume consumers, effective May 1, 2002 to May 1, 2006. This legislation also provided refunds, retroactive to May 1, 2002, to compensate those consumers for any costs in excess of the 4.3-cent cap.All transmission and distribution rates were frozen at existing levels until at least May 1, 2006. Utilities were required to receive written approval from the Minister of Energy before any application for rate changes could be submitted to the OEB. This legislation also deemed any interim rate order to be final. In addition, the new legislation modified the OEB’s objectives in the areas of energy efficiency and conservation with respect to both natural gas and electricity from “facilitating” to “promoting.”

2003

Proclaimed on August 1, 2003, the Ontario Energy Board Consumer Protection and Governance Act, 2003, established the new OEB as a self-financing crown corporation and gave the OEB the opportunity to do its work more efficiently and effectively. In particular, the legislation provided for a management committee to manage the activities of the OEB. The legislation further enhanced the OEB’s role in protecting and educating energy consumers.In December 2003, the government introduced the Ontario Energy Board Amendment Act (Electricity Pricing), 2003, which put in place a new interim electricity pricing structure, replacing the 4.3 cent per kilowatt hour (kWh) price cap as of April 1, 2004. Under the interim structure, residential, low-volume and other designated consumers paid 4.7 cents per kWh for the first 750 kWh consumed per month, and 5.5 cents per kWh for consumption above that level.The Act called on the OEB to develop a new electricity pricing mechanism. It also charged the OEB with the responsibility to protect and renew Ontario’s electricity grid by ensuring reasonable charges for the delivery of electricity.The legislation also required the OEB to allow local distribution companies to recoup costs (called “regulatory assets”), the recovery of which had been put on hold in 2002 by the Electricity Pricing, Conservation and Supply Act, 2002. These recoveries would be spread over a four-year period so that they would have only a modest impact on the final price to consumers.

2004

In June 2004, the Government of Ontario proposed a restructuring of the province’s electricity sector in order to encourage new electricity supply, energy conservation and stable prices at a level reflecting the true cost of electricity.The Electricity Restructuring Act, 2004, received Royal Assent on December 9, 2004. The new legislation amended the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998, and the Electricity Act, 1998.The OEB became responsible for developing a transparent mechanism for establishing electricity commodity prices for eligible consumers who have not signed contracts with electricity retailers. The Regulated Price Plan, which took effect May 1, 2005, replaced the interim two-tier pricing of 4.7 cents per kilowatt hour (¢/kWh) and 5.5 ¢/kWh hour that had been in place since April 2004.The OEB also assumed responsibility for the Market Surveillance Panel, previously the responsibility of the IESO.A new agency, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), was established to ensure an adequate, reliable and secure supply of electricity in Ontario for the medium and long term. The OEB was given the duty of approving the OPA’s fees and its integrated power system plan and procurement process. The OEB is also responsible for licensing the OPA.

2009

The Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 received Royal Assent on May 14, 2009.  Among other things, the legislation amended the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 and the Electricity Act, 1998.  It established important responsibilities for the OEB and other entities in achieving the objectives of conservation, promotion of renewable generation, and technological innovation through the smart grid.The OEB’s three new objectives are:

  1. The promotion of renewable energy, including the timely connection of renewable energy projects to transmission and distribution systems;
  2. The promotion of conservation and demand management; and
  3. The facilitation of the implementation of a smart grid.

The OEB has an important role to play in ensuring the government’s objectives in the legislation are achieved. That includes ensuring that electricity distributors meet the requirements for renewable generation connection, smart grid implementation and conservation and demand management.

2010

In 2010, Ontario passed the Energy Consumer Protection Act, that would ensure Ontarians have the information they need about electricity contracts and bills, as well as the comfort of knowing they can rely on fair business practices. The new rules come into effect in January 2011.

 

Silo reader “Jack” sent us this scan of his hydro bill- over 500$ for two months of service for a small 2 Bedroom basement apartment. Notice that he was unable to pay his bill on time due to the fact that his bill accounted for almost 50% of his rent.

The first bill was $237 and the next month was even higher at almost 300$ for a single months worth of hydro service CP

The first bill was $237 and the next month was even higher at almost 300$ for a single month of hydro.

 

13 Comments to Why Ontarians Continue Having Trouble Paying For Electricity

  1. Facts Still Matter in Ontario – March 3, 2017

    Good afternoon,
    Patrick Brown was on CFRB 1010 this morning trying to attack our plan to lower electricity bills by 25% on average for all residential customers. Instead he was criticized for not having a credible proposal of his own.

    Michael Taube, a former Harper speech writer and close friend of Brown’s, called the performance “an unmitigated disaster” and that Brown “didn’t sound like a leader.”

    Even Conservative supporters calling in weren’t impressed:

    Caller: “I was surprised you were giving this person so much time because they didn’t know what they were talking about.”

    Caller: “Patrick Brown should have been prepared. He sounded like a young politician.”

    Caller:” Please don’t let this be Patrick Brown…Please don’t let this be Patrick Brown.”

    They understand that Facts Still Matter in Ontario. Take a listen to their comments here:http://www.iheartradio.ca/newstalk-1010/audio (March 3 free for all round 1 @ 6:40)

    Twitters users also expressed their distaste:

    Liberal Caucus Twitter Examples

    He claimed: “if we sell a majority [of Hydro One] we’re going to lose future control over rate increases.”

    Fact: This is their biggest proposal yet it’s completely false – it won’t take one cent off electricity bills. Energy rates will continue to be set by the independent Ontario Energy Board, who has a mandate to protect ratepayers.
    (Source: http://www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/OEB/Industry/Regulatory+Proceedings/Applications+Before+the+Board)

    Others agree:

    “This idea that because it’s private rates will go up is a straw man…They’ll still have to go to OEB, still have to go through the same rigmarole whether it’s public or private. If it’s private, people might even push against rate hikes more.”
    Brady Yauch, former Energy Probe economist and current economist at the Consumer Policy Institute, CBC, April 20th, 2015

    “Your hydro costs won’t change with new ownership. Hydro One is and will remain a regulated utility that answers to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).”
    Jack Gibbons, Chair, Clean Air Alliance, NOW Magazine, April 29th, 2015

    “In Ontario, though, the OEB, or Ontario Energy Board, sets the rates, and utilities must make their case whenever they want to raise prices.”
    Tim Kiladze, Globe and Mail, September 29th, 2016

    He claimed: “She won’t share them [contracts] with the public, we only have a copy of one of the contracts which is completely wrong. The opposition should have access to these contracts but the one contract we have a copy of the Samsung deal.”
    Fact: Template contracts – all over 100 pages – for the FIT program rounds 1 to 5 are publicly posted. Brown has had almost 2 years as Leader of the PCs to provide his opinion on ‘ripping up’ these contracts, but instead has decided to spread misinformation. (Source: http://fit.powerauthority.on.ca/program-resources/program-archives/version-1)

    He claimed: “you know there would be really, there would be significant opportunity to, to get rid of the surplus just in the, just in the bad deals.”
    Fact: PC Energy Critic Todd Smith admitted earlier this week that renegotiating contracts would come at a huge cost to taxpayers and would cause electricity prices to rise. (Source: [4:38] http://www.iheartradio.ca/580-cfra/shows/news-views-with-rob-snow-1.1867979)

    Experts agree:
    “I think they’d find themselves in court for years and years to come. It sends a terrible message to the market that they can’t rely on government to enter into a binding agreement. They get sued and it can end up costing the taxpayer an awful lot of money.”
    Paul Harricks, Energy, Infrastructure and Mining Industry Group Lead, Gowlings WLG

    “The costs of ripping up Ontario’s renewable energy contracts would be staggering.”
    Ron Clark, Energy Law at Aird & Berlis LPP, teaches Energy and Infrastructure Law at Osgoode Hall

    He claimed: “I actually put up on twitter yesterday the list of the companies that made donations and the contracts they got.”
    Fact: He didn’t. (Source: https://twitter.com/brownbarrie)

    He claimed: “so FIT-5 is today.”
    Fact: Today is the deadline for participants to withdraw their application to FIT 5, no new contracts are being signed today. This is very, very clear on the IESO’s website. (Source: http://fit.powerauthority.on.ca/what-feed-tariff-program)

    He claimed: “We give away electricity at a loss to Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, New York.”
    Fact: We’ve seen this one from Patrick Brown before. The last time the provincial Conservatives were in power, they spent $900 million importing electricity over two years just to keep the lights on. Given our position of strength, Ontario is a net exporter now, benefitting ratepayers to the tune of $230 million in 2015 (as estimated by the Independent Electricity System Operator).

  2. Electricity costs now threatening Ontario’s food processing Sector. Maple Leaf Foods offer chart showing millions of dollars of savings per year if they left Ontario and set up operations in other provinces or US states.

    QUEEN’S PARK – Canada’s leading retailer of packaged meats is also feeling the heat from Ontario’s high electricity prices.

    Today, Rory McAlpine, senior vice-president government and media relations of Maple Leaf Foods, testified before the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. Maple Leaf, headquartered in Toronto, markets under the Maple Leaf, Shopsy’s, and Schneiders labels. The company employs about 5,100 people across Canada, and exports to 20 countries.

    Over all of its Ontario plants, Maple Leaf’s electricity bill increased by 18 per cent to $19.7 million last year.

    Given the increase in electricity costs, the company went through the exercise of calculating its potential electricity costs if it were to move to other jurisdictions. The potential savings ranged from $7.5 million to $12.8 million per year. The results of this survey were as follows:

    “This is material and it’s before cap and trade comes in this year,” McAlpine told the committee.

    He also explained part of the challenge is the company’s electricity bills are unpredictable because of the global adjustment charge.

    In addition to operating several plants and having its corporate headquarters in Ontario, Maple Leaf Foods also purchases millions of dollars of Ontario farm product.

    “The fact Maple Leaf Foods has gone through the exercise of calculating the savings on electricity in other provinces should be a warning to all elected representatives,” said Barrett, a member of the Finance Committee, and Opposition Critic to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Companies of this magnitude don’t go through these exercises without good reason.”

    During the hearings I asked what could be done to help the company. McAlpine answered simplifying the system would help, adding, “We have to do that with an eye to competitive consequences.”

    Industrial electricity is something all concerned should take seriously. Ontario business and industry continue to face a crisis in electricity and other energy costs. It is incumbent on employers, workers and government to all work together to turn around this threat to our economy.

    For more information, contact me, MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or toby.barrett@pc.ola.org Please mention the Silo when contacting.

  3. The Ontario government’s hydro horror show

    They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and under the guise of green energy, the present government has taken us on that road to the highest electricity rates in North America.

    The result, a litany of horror stories from local ratepayers that would make Stephen King cringe.

    I think of a recent office visit from a Port Rowan lady who loved to do baking for her mother and others in Norview. But now, she has been forced to turn off her kitchen oven as she cannot afford the electricity.

    My office has taken calls from people who say they were disconnected without receiving notices. Then, they are told reconnection will take three days, but if an additional $180 is paid their hydro could be turned on sooner.

    Then there’s the local farmer who also had his electricity shut off. He had paid his current bill but decided to take a stand against a new invoice that charged him $21.12 in electricity and $1,301.73 for delivery. This issue hasn’t been resolved, but in the meantime he has gone off the grid and bought a generator.

    A Haldimand County gentleman “does everything right” when it comes to energy conservation in his home. He has installed energy efficient appliances, lighting, new heating and air-conditioning, has an on-demand water heater and is never home during on-peak hours. However, he gets a monthly bill of over $400. If that’s not bad enough, his family business pays $40,000 a month for electricity. Last year it was $30, 000 a month. No increase in sales, and a 30 per cent increase in expense makes it tough for any business.

    Then there’s is the case of a Langton-area resident who is also doing everything right – new high efficiency furnace, new air conditioner, natural gas dryer, and natural gas water heater in a 1,300-square-foot home. His $400 a month bill is double that of a year ago.

    This hydro horror tale has been brewing for some time. A couple of years ago, I met with a couple who live in a modest 790 square foot house – they heat with one electric space heater, wear heavy sweaters all winter and are doing absolutely everything they can to keep costs down. But their January hydro bill, back then, was $641.67 — $233.89 of which was delivery. During the meeting I was told: “All my pension goes to pay my electricity.” I can only imagine how their bill has escalated since.

    Now frightened of the wrath of voters, the provincial government has recently tried to modify the ending of its own horror story by not going forward with some of the renewable contracts. Yet, they forge ahead with others, even though we don’t need the power. With much of the outcry coming from rural Ontario with its higher delivery charges, the government announced a paltry rebate. This though will be eaten up by the next price increase on Nov. 1 and the coming cap and trade tax.

    And just in time for Halloween, when people of all ages don costumes to play a fantasy role for the evening, the premier labels Ontario residents, when it comes to greenhouse gases, as “very bad actors”. I disagree with that label and, under the circumstances, feel people are doing the best they can. Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett

  4. MPP SCOTT CONFRONTS WYNNE GOVERNMENT ON ITS DISREGARD FOR RURAL ONTARIANS

    QUEEN’S PARK – On September 19, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Jeff Leal, was quoted in the Peterborough Examiner as saying that while he works hard ‘trying to promote the interests of Agriculture – getting others in the Ontario Liberal Government to listen is a challenge.’

    With this week marking Ontario Agriculture Week, MPP Scott stood in the Legislature to challenge Premier to explain why she isn’t supporting her own Minister of Agriculture.

    “The Minister’s comment in the Peterborough Examiner simply confirms the disregard that this Government has for our farmers and for rural Ontarians,” Scott said.

    “Their pleas for relief and support from this government are going unanswered,” Scott added.

    Hardworking rural Ontarians and workers in our agricultural sector are facing difficult conditions, including the crippling costs of hydro, the overburden of unnecessary regulations, and outright government intrusion into the way they run their businesses.

    Unfortunately, the Wynne government doesn’t seem to be getting the message, even after the Premier and the Liberal Caucus were booed at last month’s International Plowing Match.

  5. PORT DOVER – It’s now official Ontario’s energy prices are the highest in North America.
    Energy blogger Parker Gallant released an updated analysis of North American energy prices on Aug. 10. Previously, Hawaii did have the highest prices at 22.6 cents/kilowatt-hour, including distribution. Ontario’s distribution charges vary dependent on the housing density. Ontario low density prices are 25.9 cents/kwh and medium density customers pay 22.6 cents, but that is before HST.

    Ontario now has another dubious honour to add to its list. We have long suspected the province’s electricity rates were among the highest on the continent – now it’s proven they are the highest.

    Opposition Energy Critic John Yakubuski added, “In my travels across the province, I’ve seen first-hand the impacts skyrocketing energy rates have had on the hardworking people of our province. Since the Liberal Government first took office, average households are paying $1,000 more a year on their annual hydro bills, meaning some families are being faced with the difficult choice of eating or heating their home.”

    I have said high electricity prices are the top reason constituents contact my office.

    Government doesn’t realize electricity isn’t a luxury. There are many parts of rural Ontario without natural gas service where electric heat is still prevalent. What are businesses such as ice cream stores and grocery stores that must run coolers to do with high electricity prices? This news won’t do anything to attract new business and industry to the province. Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett.
    For more information, contact me at 519-428-04446 or toby.barrett@pc.ola.org Please mention the Silo when contacting.

  6. Toby Barrett

    April 19, 2016- Electricity rates are on the rise again.
    Effective May 1, on-peak rates – which run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. – will increase by 0.5¢ per kilowatt-hour to 18¢/kwh. Mid-peak and off-peak are also increasing, and will be 13.2¢/kwh and 7.7¢/kwh. The increase is expected to equate to $3 per month.
    Three dollars per month for electricity, $5 for natural gas – this government is nickel and diming the people of Ontario to death..
    This increase brings the increase in the on-peak rate to close to 80 per cent since Smart Meters were introduced in 2010.
    The Ontario Energy Board blamed the increase on the mild winter and less-than-expected energy consumption. They blame low consumption from mild winter – those who heat with electricity are hit coming and going.
    I am also concerned that with Ontario having the highest electricity prices in North America, it could scare away potential new business and industry, while making it difficult for existing businesses to compete on a global scale.
    For more information contact me, MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or toby.barrett@pc.ola.org Please mention The Silo when contacting.

  7. Liberals deliver fool’s gold forecast

    (Queen’s Park): GPO leader Mike Schreiner issued the following statement in response to Ontario’s Fall Economic Statement.

    “The Liberal government has delivered a fool’s gold forecast that uses the sell off of Hydro One to make the deficit look smaller than it is. We need the Liberals to be honest with people if Ontario is going to make the investments we need for transportation while balancing the books.

    Selling off a valuable public asset like Hydro One will hurt Ontario’s finances. It’s wrong for the Liberals to compound the problem by using Hydro revenue to mislead people on the budget deficit.

    Ontario needs new revenue tools to fund essential transportation infrastructure. It’s time for the three parties at Queen’s Park to get together on this. The GPO will continue to support expert recommendations to fund transportation without selling off Hydro One.

    We are pleased to see the government move on one of our top priorities: helping people save money by saving energy. It was a mistake for the Liberals to cancel the home retrofit program in 2011. The $325 million green investment fund to support home energy retrofits is a start but should be expanded. This is a drop in the bucket if the province truly wants to help people save money by putting conservation first.

    We are pleased that the province is starting to answer our call for investment in safe cycling infrastructure. However, the $25 million over three years is far short of the modest 1% of the transportation budget for cycling that Greens will continue to advocate.

    The GPO looks forward to more details on the government’s plan to support the sharing economy. Greens support opportunities the sharing economy presents for innovation, entrepreneurs and local economies.

    It’s past time for the Liberals to be honest about funding transit. Shell games like selling Hydro One won’t raise the revenue needed to balance the books and fund transportation. The GPO challenges the Liberals, NDP and PCs to be honest about funding transportation without liquidating Hydro One.”

    Amy Watson

  8. Hydro One: Short-term gain but long-term pain

    This month brought us another unaffordable electricity increase as a result of failed electricity policies. On average, we will now pay an additional $53 annually, on top of the $68 price hike last spring.

    This month also saw the provincial government’s Initial Public Offering of 15 per cent of Hydro One at $20.50 a share.

    And also this month, Ontario’s Financial Accountability Officer (FAO) released a report confirming what Ontario’s Opposition has been saying all along – that the Hydro One fire sale is a bad deal for electricity users.

    As Opposition Leader Patrick Brown explained during Question Period: “It makes no sense to sell an asset that will only net $1.4 billion while you lose an asset that brings in $700 million each and every year.”

    According to an Ontario Energy Association poll, almost 80 per cent of residents believe the fire sale will raise their hydro bills. When you combine rising hydro bills with the inevitable tax increases this government will impose to make up for revenue lost, people will suffer a double hit.

    The Official Opposition has been doing everything in its power to stop this sell-off, bringing up the topic on an almost-daily basis and asking the government to reconsider.

    During the 2015 budget, Ontario announced its intention to sell up to 60 per cent of Hydro One. The province would sell 15 per cent in 2015-16 and the balance in subsequent sales.

    By selling 15 per cent of Hydro One, Ontario’s net debt would initially be reduced between $2.4 and $3.9 billion. However, in his report, Ontario’s Financial Accountability Officer, warns net debt would eventually increase as a result of the partial sale as the cost of forgone revenues from Hydro One begins to exceed the initial benefits.

    Hydro One is wholly owned by the Province of Ontario as an electricity transmission and distribution company. In 2014, the company operated 97 per cent of Ontario’s transmission capacity, and the largest distribution system in Ontario spanning 75 per cent of the province.

    As sole owner, the province currently has claim to all of the net income of Hydro One – approximately $750 million last year. Following the sale of 15 per cent of the company, the province would have claim to only 85 per cent of this net income. The FAO estimates the sale of 15 per cent of Hydro One would result in a reduction of approximately $50 million in income.

    Each additional sale of ownership would increase the amount of foregone income.

    The FAO does recognize there may be potential for improvement to Hydro One’s net income as a result of changes and the resulting influence of new owners.

    The fact remains, Hydro One is one of the worst performing electricity distributors in North America, and spends an awful lot of money to maintain their track record.

    Even among electricity distributors in Ontario, Hydro One, according to the National Post, performed so poorly that is was considered an outlier, along with Toronto Hydro. Its new CEO makes $4 million a year and, on average, wages are 10 per cent above comparable entities.

    There is hope locally [here in Haldimand County] that the new owners may see the way clear to complete the Niagara transmission corridor through Caledonia, shut down by protestors for the past nine years.
    Reach me, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett, at 519-428-0446, 905-765-8413 or 1-800-903-8629 Please mention the Silo when contacting.

  9. Hydro One Initial Public Offering Closes
    Ontario On Track To Raise $4 Billion For Infrastructure Investments

    Ontario is generating significant returns from broadening the ownership of Hydro One Limited, in order to help support the single largest investment in transit and transportation infrastructure in the province’s history – investing $130 billion over ten years and making 110,000 jobs possible each year.

    The Initial Public Offering (IPO) has now closed for Hydro One common shares. This initial stake in the company will begin trading today on the Toronto Stock Exchange (the “TSX”) under the symbol “H”. By proceeding in a careful, staged, and prudent manner over time, the government expects to realize $9 billion in proceeds, $4 billion of which will be invested in infrastructure and $5 billion to reduce debt.

    The Province has offered 81,100,000 common shares at $20.50 per share for total gross proceeds to the Province of approximately $1.66 billion, in addition to an option granted to the underwriters, to purchase up to an additional 8,150,000 common shares, which would result in total gross proceeds of approximately $1.8 billion. Approximately 40 per cent of the offering has been allocated to individual retail investors, helping ensure that Ontarians from across the province can participate in the broadened ownership of Hydro One.

    The government is committed to invest net revenue gains from the Province’s sale of Hydro One common shares into the Trillium Trust which, in turn, will be used to fund infrastructure projects that will create jobs and strengthen the economy. These proceeds will fund priority projects such as GO Transit Regional Express Rail, Light Rail Transit projects in communities across Ontario, and natural gas network expansion in rural and northern communities.

    Maximizing the value of Hydro One is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.

    QUOTES

    “The completion of Hydro One’s IPO and the broadening of ownership in the company mark a milestone in our province’s history. By realizing the value of this public asset, we will be able to build new roads, bridges, rapid transit, schools and hospitals in communities across Ontario, while remaining the largest shareholder.”

    — Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy

    QUICK FACTS

    § The Ontario government will remain the largest shareholder of Hydro One after the IPO, and by law no other shareholder or group of shareholders is permitted to own more than 10 per cent.

    § A report and news release detailing the Province’s ownership of Hydro One after giving effect to the IPO will be filed as required with the Ontario Securities Commission and other Canadian securities regulators.

    § Research shows that every $100 million of public infrastructure investment in Ontario boosts GDP by $114 million, particularly in construction and manufacturing sectors.

    § Ontario’s infrastructure investments are making 110,000 jobs possible per year with projects such as roads, bridges, transit systems, schools and hospitals across the province.

    LEARN MORE

    **********************************************************************************************************************************

    Clôture du placement initial dans le public d’Hydro One

    L’Ontario devrait amasser 4 milliards de dollars destinés aux investissements dans l’infrastructure

    NOUVELLES

    Le 5 novembre 2015

    L’Ontario s’apprête à générer des rendements importants grâce à l’élargissement de l’actionnariat d’Hydro One Limited en vue d’appuyer le plus grand investissement dans l’infrastructure de transport et de transport en commun de l’histoire de la province, soit 130 milliards de dollars sur dix ans, sans compter la création de 110 000 emplois chaque année.

    Le placement initial dans le public (PIP) est maintenant clos pour les actions ordinaires d’Hydro One. Cette participation initiale dans la société sera inscrite aujourd’hui à la Bourse de Toronto (« TSX ») sous le symbole « H ». En procédant prudemment et graduellement au fil du temps, l’Ontario s’attend a réaliser des produits de 9 milliards de dollars, dont quatre milliards de dollars seront investis dans l’infrastructure et cinq millions de dollars dans la réduction de la dette.

    La province a offert 81 100 000 actions ordinaires au prix unitaire de 20,50 $, ce qui représente un produit total d’environ 1,66 milliard de dollars pour la province, ainsi qu’une option de surattribution accordée aux souscripteurs pour l’achat de 8 150 000 actions ordinaires supplémentaires, ce qui pourrait entraîner un produit total d’environ 1,8 milliard de dollars. Environ 40 pour cent des actions ont été attribuées à des investisseurs particuliers, contribuant ainsi à assurer que la population de l’ensemble de la province puisse participer à l’élargissement de l’actionnariat d’Hydro One.

    Le gouvernement s’engage à investir les revenus nets provenant de la vente des actions ordinaires d’Hydro One de la province dans le Fonds Trillium qui, par la suite, servira à financer des projets d’infrastructure qui créeront des emplois et renforceront l’économie. Ces produits serviront à financer des projets prioritaires comme le service ferroviaire express régional et le métro léger du Réseau GO dans les collectivités de l’Ontario, ainsi que l’expansion du réseau de gaz naturel dans les collectivités rurales et celles du Nord.

    L’optimisation de la valeur d’Hydro One s’inscrit dans le plan du gouvernement pour favoriser l’essor de l’Ontario. Comprenant quatre volets, le plan vise notamment à investir dans les talents et les compétences des gens, à faire le plus important investissement dans l’infrastructure publique de l’histoire de l’Ontario, à créer un environnement dynamique et innovateur au sein duquel les entreprises peuvent s’épanouir et à élaborer un régime d’épargne-retraite sûr.

    CITATIONS

    « Le placement initial dans le public d’Hydro One et l’élargissement de l’actionnariat de la société marque une étape importante dans l’histoire de notre province. Grâce à la valeur dégagée de cet actif public, nous serons en mesure de construire des routes, des ponts, des éléments d’infrastructure de transport en commun rapide, des écoles et des hôpitaux dans l’ensemble de l’Ontario. »

    — Bob Chiarelli, ministre de l’Énergie

    FAITS EN BREF

    § Le gouvernement de l’Ontario restera le plus important actionnaire d’Hydro One à la clôture du PIP et aucun autre actionnaire ou groupe d’actionnaires ne pourra détenir plus de 10 pour cent des actions.

    § Un rapport et un communiqué de presse détaillant les intérêts de la province dans Hydro One après le PIP seront déposés comme requis auprès de la Commission des valeurs mobilières de l’Ontario et d’autres organismes de réglementation canadiens des valeurs mobilières.

    § Les recherches révèlent que chaque investissement de 100 millions de dollars dans l’infrastructure publique de l’Ontario augmente le PIB de 114 millions de dollars, particulièrement dans les secteurs de la construction et de la fabrication.

    § Les investissements dans l’infrastructure de l’Ontario permettent la création de 110 000 emplois par année grâce à des projets comme les routes, les ponts, les réseaux de transport en commun, les écoles et les hôpitaux partout dans la province.

    POUR EN SAVOIR DAVANTAGE

    Plan du gouvernement pour mettre à profit la valeur de certains actifs publics

    Le Fonds Trillium et le plan Faire progresser l’Ontario

  10. QUEEN’S PARK – The question of who is standing up for farmers at the Cabinet table in regards to the sale of Hydro One remains unanswered. [Here is what I said in Legislature]

    “To the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, clearly a minister who should be fighting for farmers at the cabinet table: We have dairy farmers here today. However, the minister has sat idly by while now 174 municipalities, the vast majority of them rural, have passed resolutions opposing the sale of Hydro One. The minister himself has said we will keep Hydro One ‘in public hands’.

    But Minister Leal didn’t answer the question, allowing the Minister of Energy to answer.

    [I continued: ]“Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture is sitting over here, silent—sitting idly, silent, I might say—with respect to the Hydro One fire sale while rural municipalities pass resolution after resolution opposing it. Among the now 174 municipalities that oppose this sale are the ag minister’s own Peterborough County and Peterborough itself.

    “In the past, Minister Leal opposed privatization— ‘… we’ll never look at it.’

    “His constituents oppose the sale; the farmers his ministry represents oppose the sale. My question: When will the minister finally represent farmers at the cabinet table—I’m not referring to other cabinet ministers—and oppose the sale of Hydro One?”

    Again, Minister Leal had allowed the Minister of Energy to answer on his behalf.

    For more information, contact me MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or toby.barrett@pc.ola.org Please mention the Silo when contacting.

    ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

    OFFICIAL HANSARD

    OCTOBER 26, 2015

    Privatization of public assets

    Mr. Toby Barrett: To the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, clearly a minister who should be fighting for farmers at the cabinet table: We have dairy farmers here today. However, the minister has sat idly by while now 174 municipalities, the vast majority of them rural, have passed resolutions opposing the sale of Hydro One. The minister himself has said we will keep Hydro One “in public hands.”

    Speaker, when will the minister speak up at the cabinet table to keep Hydro One in public hands?

    Hon. Jeff Leal: To the Minister of Energy.

    Hon. Bob Chiarelli: It’s a strange question, coming from a member from that party. As we all know in this House, in the 2014 election, that party campaigned in favour of broadening the ownership of Ontario Power Generation and Hydro One. Not only that, they indicated that rates would be protected through the Ontario Energy Board. Not only that, the present leader of that party has essentially said the same thing.

    So when will that party disavow themselves of the commitment they made in the 2014 election campaign?

    Mr. Toby Barrett: Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture is sitting over here, silent—sitting idly, silent, I might say—with respect to the Hydro One fire sale while rural municipalities pass resolution after resolution opposing it. Among the now 174 municipalities that oppose this sale are the ag minister’s own Peterborough county and Peterborough itself.

    In the past, Minister Leal opposed privatization—“… we’ll never look at” it.

    His constituents oppose the sale; the farmers his ministry represents oppose the sale. My question: When will the minister finally represent farmers at the cabinet table—I’m not referring to other cabinet ministers—and oppose the sale of Hydro One?

    Interjections.

    The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.

    Minister—

    Interjections.

    The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Excuse me.

    Hon. Bob Chiarelli: Rural municipalities want infrastructure. They’ve said it over and over again. If they look at the results of the recent federal election campaign, the country, ??in every province, said they want infrastructure. That’s why they got the result that they did from a party that was promising infrastructure.

    We did a lot of consultation, and the mayors, one after the other, said they need infrastructure. We have a $130-billion infrastructure program, over 10 years, led by the Premier. That is real change in terms of meeting the infrastructure deficit.

    The $4 billion that will go to infrastructure from broadening the ownership of Hydro One …

  11. Pull the Plug on Hydro One Sell Off

    Ontario cannot afford the long-term financial losses from the Liberal government’s plan to sell off Hydro One according to today’s report from the Financial Accountability Office (FAO).

    According to the FAO report, Ontario will lose between $300 and $500 million in revenue annually by selling 60% of Hydro One. “The Premier needs to pull the plug on selling Hydro One. It is clear that Ontario cannot afford the Liberal’s Hydro sell off,” says GPO leader Mike Schreiner. “Why is it so hard for the Premier to admit that selling Hydro One is a bad idea? The public is clearly opposed to it, and the evidence is mounting that it is a bad idea.”

    The Green Party of Ontario continues to call on all parties at Queen’s Park to be honest about ways to fund transportation infrastructure without having to sell off Hydro One.

    “Political games around transportation funding are hurting Ontario,” says GPO Transportation Critic Tim Grant. “Fairy dust and magic money trees won’t pay for our much needed infrastructure.”

    The GPO supports expert recommendations such as parking levies, congestion charges, and land value taxes to fund the transportation infrastructure Ontario needs without liquidating public assets such as Hydro One.

    “The failure of all three parties at Queen’s Park to be honest about funding transportation has led to bad ideas such as selling off Hydro One,” says Schreiner. “Greens are calling on the Premier and the opposition leaders to work together on a funding solution for transportation that does not include selling Hydro One.”

    The GPO is on a mission to bring honesty, integrity and good public policy to Queen’s Park.
    Amy Watson For more info, reach me at- 416-977-7476

  12. I fear that the Nov. 1 hydro rate hike will force more to ‘heat or eat’. On October 15th, the Ontario Energy Board announced hydro rates will increase on Nov. 1, 2015. This means the average customer will pay $53 more each year for hydro – an 8.7% increase for on-peak rates.

    The Premier and Energy Minister will dismiss this increase as only a few dollars per month, but the cumulative effect of increases after increase means the average Ontario family will struggle further to make ends meet. In my 20 years in office, I’ve never received as many calls on a single issue as the price of electricity. These increases are the result of mismanagement of the electricity sector.

    In May of this year, ratepayers already experienced an average increase of 68 dollars to their annual hydro bill. Moreover, with the upcoming cancellation of the Clean Energy Benefit in January – which provides a 10% reduction on electricity bills – customers will once again see their rates increase. And then there’s $8.70 per year for the average customer to pay for the new Ontario Electricity Support Program for low-income families.

    It’s not that I am against low-income support programs, but what this government just doesn’t get is it’s not just the low-income earners who are struggling with their electricity bill, it’s the middle-class also. Electricity rates wouldn’t be so high if it wasn’t for the billions of dollars of waste and inefficiency.

    As well, electricity bills are expected to continue to escalate. By this Government’s own estimates, the average person’s hydro bill will continue to skyrocket for the next decade. The Government needs to realize that the electricity system is there to serve the people of Ontario. They need to start taking into consideration customers’ ability to pay.
    Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett

    For more information, contact me at 519-428-0446 or toby.barrett@pc.ola.org Please mention the Silo when contacting.

  13. Silo-
    I live in a 2 bedroom condo- my condo fee covers heat, hydro, indoor pool, indoor parking (no shoveling, no warming up the car!), security, maintenance, someone to put out the recycling and the garbage etc for $700 month… but I can use as much or as little as I want, do as many loads of laundry, indulge in a long hot shower….. I like that its always the same, easy to plan for. I’m so out of touch with #whatisreallygoingon

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