Open letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne about Hydro costs

by Tracy Simmons – The Millstone – March 30, 2015:

Ms. Wynne,

Your silence on the matter of skyrocketing hydro costs in Ontario is extremely disturbing.

Thousands of Ontarians, particularly those living in the rural areas, are suffering hardships as a result of the decisions that your government has made. The fact that you do not appear to be concerned with the welfare of Ontarians is extremely distressing.

We are witnessing the decimation of a once formidable Province at the hands of your government. In a democratic society, of which Ontario is one, the people are meant to be heard. It seems that you decided upon obtaining a majority government in the last election that you no longer have to listen to the people of this Province.

Your government’s decisions are responsible for Ontario businesses closing; for families having to choose between food and hydro, between hydro and rent, between hydro and Christmas and birthday gifts; seniors freezing during the day and racing around at night to do tasks that require electricity; for farmers facing the loss of their farms; and for shift workers paying premium rates to do laundry and vacuum their homes. And what about Ontarians with medical conditions that require equipment that runs on electricity? These are not the stories of someone who knows someone.

The subsidy programs that your energy minister, Bob Chiarelli, has put in place are not helping Ontarians. Ontarians do not need nor want more programs that discriminate between different income earners; they need a fair price for hydro for all Ontarians. Ontarians are not looking for handouts; they are looking for reasonable prices for a service that is readily available. Ontarians will never be content with paying exorbitant prices while your government is selling our surplus at a loss (a surplus that your minister states will exist at least until 2020). They will not be quiet as long as the company that they are forced to deal with is top heavy with executives whose salaries far exceed $100,000 while they try to get by with so much less.

Ontarians state that they cannot afford to pay the current price for hydro and your government responds with more increases. Not only is your government planning to significantly raise hydro charges, but it is also planning to introduce a carbon tax of some kind. Ontarians CANNOT AFFORD these charges. Ontarians cannot bear the burden of your green energy agenda. Ontarians DO NOT want this. Why are you forcing your agenda on them? Why is your government bent on crippling Ontarians financially despite their pleas?

Your minister states that, “Most importantly, most importantly, it is important that people take some of the responsibility themselves by way of conservation.” Well, Ms. Wynne what more do you expect people to do? Ontarians are already uncomfortable in their own homes. Your government dictated that the “smart” meters be installed and now Ontarians must do their laundry, use their dishwashers, vacuum, and cook their meals after 7:00 p.m. or pay a premium. They replaced all of their lights with CFLs and LEDs. They switched out their perfectly functional electric furnaces and baseboard heaters with natural gas, propane, or oil. They don’t turn up their heat until after 7:00 p.m. If they are home from work sick, they shiver under blankets and wait until 7:00 p.m. to turn up the heat. Please do not suggest buying solar panels or wind turbines on top of what they have already expended. Ontarians cannot keep up with their hydro bills so they certainly do not have any extra money for such idealistic luxuries.

Your minister is correct about one thing: the costs of services go up every year. What does not necessarily go up, and certainly not as fast as the cost of hydro, are the incomes of Ontarians.

If you care at all for Ontarians, not just the rich ones or the ones with a stake in wind turbines and solar panels, Ms. Wynne, please stop destroying the economic viability of this province.

Tracy Simmons Ontario resident


Hydro costs cut into seniors’ income

Published on Sat Mar 28 2015

Kathleen Wynne is so desperate for money she must have her head in the sand. One look at the Highway 407 disaster and the mess Britain is in after privatizing its utilities should be an example. Britain’s utilities were privatized, now money is not being put into infrastructure and they are in serious trouble.

If Hydro One is sold off, it will add yet more costs to the bill for the citizens of Ontario. Hydro One and the LCBO are both money-makers and yet the Liberals keep threatening to sell them to cover their reckless spending and management waste.

Yes, I do have a personal interest. My hydro bill is $700 to $800 a month in the winter months. That cuts very seriously into our seniors’ income. It has to be paid. Natural gas is not an option where we live. When the weather is cold, we dread receiving our hydro bill at the end of each month. We, and all other seniors and lower income people, should not have to live like that.

Many seniors sit all day in heavy clothing with little heat so they have money for food and other necessities.

Electricity is one of our resources; we should not have to live with the constant threat of it becoming something that will not allow us a decent lifestyle.

Dianne Thomas, Roseneath


Common sense reality check needed

By Patrick Brown, Special to the Examiner

As a federal Member of Parliament in the Conservative caucus since 2006, my colleagues and I have been squarely focused on jobs and creating the best possible climate for business and individuals to succeed in our economy.

But as a member from Ontario, I continue to see a troubling barrier that is a persistent drag on our province.

Back in 2003, when then premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals came to power, electricity prices were costing consumers about 6.5 cents per kilowatt (kWH). The new government rejected the old Ontario Hydro model.

This government said, ‘It didn’t work. We’re fixing it. We’re cleaning up the mess.’

Just a decade later, costly time of use rates (TOU) were introduced, additional regulatory charges tacked on, delivery costs doubled and the debt retirement charge continued in perpetuity.

These so-called ‘fixes’ have resulted in Ontario consumers paying well over 15 cents per kWh on average today, with costs rising to over 20 cents a kWh by 2018/19.

Consumers, small business owners and manufacturers alike from across Ontario are all too familiar with the failed energy policies that have come out of Queen’s Park.

Industrial users specifically point to the large discrepancy in electricity costs within Canada to explain why they are losing their competitive edge in the marketplace.

I am constantly asked, ‘Why are we paying almost twice as much for electricity as Quebec, Manitoba or BC?’

When the Ontario Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) was introduced in early 2009, we were told the bill had three major goals — to create more than 50,000 green jobs in the first three years, encourage energy conservation and to expand renewable energy production.

How did this legislation work out for electricity ratepayers?

The 50,000 jobs have not materialized. Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter’s findings showed a large majority of any jobs created by the GEA were in construction and would last no more than three years, and the latest budget of Liberal Finance Minister Charles Sousa made mention of 10,100 jobs in the ‘clean tech’ sector.

Ontario is exporting vast amounts of electricity at prices that yield only pennies on the dollar or in some cases paying the United States to take our excess power.

At the same time, undisclosed sums go to producers to cease generating while companies producing renewables charge the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) higher-than-market-value. To make up the difference, the OPA slaps an extra charge – called the global adjustment – on electricity bills, hidden in the TOU.

Reports show green energy provided less than 4% of Ontario’s power in 2013, while the cost to Ontarians was over 20%. With hydro rates increasing 42% over the next five years, it is estimated that green initiatives represent 56% of that hit to our wallets.

Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne has declared that the fleet of wind power will almost triple by 2021.

Let me be clear; I am in favour of renewable energy, but not at any cost.

We need to have a common sense reality check because consumers have been squeezed to the nth degree and industry keeps packing up its Ontario operations for greener pastures.

Patrick Brown is Barrie MP and a leadership candidate for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.