Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Positively Electrifying

Nicola Tesla had a large role in turning Ontario Canada into the first publicly-electrified jurisdiction in the World.   After he left electricity in Ontario was a truly public  utility until a 'Pregeressive0 Conservative' government decided that selling it off to pay down public debt was a smarter idea. It was hived off to private enterprise who, we are told, are "investing in it" and, naturally , reaping the profits  from steadily increasing electricity rates. 

This past year the current government in Ontario 'swore' they would do something about skyrocketing electricity bills.  They did.  In return for the hydro industry placing a 7 year 'freeze' on  profit-driven increase, s the Government has 'foregone' their portion of the bill derived from a Sales Tax applied to them and agreed that the rates will increase again in 2024 to allow the industry to recoup its losses. 

Instead of a common-sensible reset of already overly high bills - those private owners have to pay down the money they borrowed to buy the business  - government has provided a band aid which will be ripped off later when they're long gone.  

I wrote a letter to gripe about this and received a nice letter back. 

Note the reference to delivery rates - that's one of the for factors that go into making your monthly bill - the charge for the electricity you use (another factor) related to the time you use it (another factor) which is function of the cost of producing electricity (another factor) with relevent fees and surcharges etc (other factors)  that go into the overall 'cost' of electricity divided among the three Electric Corporations and related Production Corporations.  Simple eh?

 If you read the  nice letter you realize there is no solution - just another layer of bullshit. 

Dear  (ME) 

Thank you for your email to our Customer Communication Centre.

We heard from our customers that their delivery rates were too high so we advocated on their behalf to the government to ensure fairness across all electricity customers and the Fair Hydro Plan is a result of that.  The actions we have taken to date demonstrate our new leaderships’ commitment to improving our customer service and our relationship with our customers. The new Hydro One is working harder than ever to put our customers first and we see advocating to government on their behalf as our responsibility. The recommendations we brought to the government reflect what we have heard from our customers across the province, many of whom were struggling to afford their monthly electricity bills.

The Fair Hydro Plan has created a more fair and affordable electricity system for customers living outside of urban centres. About 60% of our customers now benefit from a delivery line that is in line with the provincial average, which represents a savings of approximately $600 a year. The Fair Hydro Plan helps those who need it the most; fixed-income, rural and Northern customers who have been struggling to pay rising electricity bills.

You may not be aware that the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) sets the commodity price and that this is the rate that has been frozen.  The OEB announced lower electricity prices for Regulated Price Plan (RPP) customers effective May 1, 2017. The OEB estimates more than 90 per cent of electricity customers in Ontario will benefit from these lower prices. These prices will be in effect until April 30, 2018.

Customers who are not on the Regulated Price Plan (RPP) but are eligible under the Fair Hydro Act, 2017 will see their bills lowered through a reduction in their Global Adjustment charges. These customers include those who are eligible for the RPP but have chosen a contract with an energy retailer or spot market pricing instead. The Ontario Energy Board has set a Global Adjustment credit of $32.90 per MWh, which translates to about 3.3 cents per kWh. The Global Adjustment credit will be effect from July 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018.

The Government of Ontario has created a site to address any concerns, opinions or thoughts regarding the Fair Hydro Plan. Your feedback is important and I would recommend completing the form provided on the following link:

The affordability fund will help customers make their home more energy efficient if they, cannot afford to make energy efficiency improvements and or do not qualify for the Save on Energy Home Assistance Program. The fund will help electricity customers in need who cannot qualify for low-income conservation programs. It will provide support to customers for energy efficiency improvements to help reduce their future electricity bills. The government will pay for this fund through provincial revenues.

There is also the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP), this program provides eligible low-income households with a reduction on their electricity bill. We encourage customers to check to see if they are eligible to receive a credit. First Nations and Métis customers are eligible for an enhanced credit. Eligibility requirements changed on May 1, 2017 and more customers will qualify for a credit. If any of the folks you help require assistance they can visit  or call 1-855-831-8151 for details.

Regarding your concerns of the involvement of the United Way, in-line with OEB's guidelines, we use a lead agency that can support province-wide delivery of the LEAP program. The United Way then works with local agencies to support customers at a more local level through in-take agencies. The Unite Way is also equipped to combine multiple assistance programs available in each community to maximize financial assistance for the customer. This is an area that would be outside a utility's experience.

Hydro One made the decision to partner with a single local agency, The United Way in order to streamline the customer’s experience. By partnering with the United Way, we were able to reduce wait times for this process as there is one point of contact for all applications, rather than applications coming in from dozens of agencies across the province. As a result, we are able to better assist our customers and manage our LEAP portfolio, while also providing an improved customer experience.

The United Way is a highly regarded agency within the Not For Profit sector and we felt that they would provide the most comfortable, timely and effortless experience for our customers.  

Thank you for taking the time to write and share your concerns.

Senior Customer Consultant, Customer Service
Hydro One Networks Inc.
185 Clegg Road
Markham, ON, L6G 1B7
Tel:   905.946.6211
Tel:  800.419.5208 ext. 6211

Received: 8/5/2017 6:57:29 PM
Subject: Thanks for nothing

Thanks for the recent email you sent about my new 'bill decrease'. I am
overjoyed. But there are a couple of points I would like to raise in
clarification of all that happiness.

"Advocating with government" seems to me to be asking for a stay of
execution. In return for being able to jack the rates into low earth orbit
in a number of years Hydro one and the electricity oligarchs of Ontario
have only committed to not increasing rates during that period, the rates
will, however, remain at the high rates that caused that "advocacy".

The brunt of the 'decrease' is being absorbed by 'the government' - viiz
hydro rate payers - in the reduction of applicable HST charges. Somebody
will want to increase income tax levels or other charges, to 'recoup' that
lost income.

I notice that the affordability fund is now a cornerstone of the Electricity
picture. In my estimation rather than having me pay a little more (hidden on
my bill) to make sure those who may not be able to afford their Hydro
costs have a little institutional charity available (I actually work to
assist some of those poor folk) - would it not be more sensible to have
affordable electricity rates to begin with?

A further 'bee in my bonnet' is engendered by the involvement of United Way
in vetting these folk. United way provides a valuable service, but they
also retain a 15 percent off-the-top fee to assist with the costs of the
office and paid staff they have. One might think that the best people to
'vet' (the main question seems to be so you need help paying your hydro
bill?) problem customers, might be a department at Hydro itself - you
are involved before, and after, no? At the very least you might be able to
assist, correct that ... WE might be able to assist 15 percent more of

I would like to congratulate your PR department on their valiant effort to
con your customers into thinking you have our best interests at heart. If
that were the case you would have been negotiating a rate reduction with the
government instead of 'freezing rates' in return for an up-the -road-

Kevin Quinn Owen Sound

PS: CC to Premier Wynn - she seems much in the dark as anybody not paying
your rates would be. If you reply, I'll post your response on my blog. 

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