Open letter to Ontario Ombudsman from Carp resident about Hydro One and electricity charges

March 12, 2015electricity_power_17bmdgm-17bmdgp

Mr. André Marin

Ontario’s Ombudsman

Bell Trinity Square

483 Bay Street, 10th Floor, South Tower

Toronto ON  M5G 2C9

Dear Mr. Marin:

I am a rural Ontarian. Five years ago, I lived in Ottawa in the Hunt Club/McCarthy area in a 3-bedroom end unit townhouse. My hydro bill was $40/month on average and my natural gas bill was $150/month on average. Now that I live in Carp, the outer reaches of Ottawa, my hydro bills are in the $600 – $900 range during the winter months. Natural gas is not and apparently never will be an option here. We have a forced air electric furnace. Apparently, it is 100% efficient as all energy is used to produce heat. Unfortunately, electricity is public enemy number one and the rates are constantly rising.

Our outside lights are LED. Our inside lights are CFLs. We only turn on the lights we are actually using at the time. All of our appliances were newly purchased when we bought the house five years ago. I have NEVER used the heated dry cycle on my dishwasher that I use only during off-peak hours. I only do laundry during off –peak hours. I rarely use the dryer and if I do, it’s in the off-peak hours. I hang most of our laundry. We have power bars set up so that when we are not watching television or using our computers there is no phantom power being drawn either.  We keep the heat at 18C at night and when we are not home. When we are away we keep the furnace at 16C. We only turn it up to 20C after 7:00 p.m. We rarely make dinner before 7:00 p.m. which means we are eating late and have to go to bed before we fully digest our meals.

In the summer, we use the air conditioning sparingly; to take the humidity out of the air not to cool the house.

We had an energy audit in the hopes of reducing our hydro bills. Apparently, our home is in great shape. It is not drafty or leaking heat. We did, however, fill all electric sockets on external walls with plugs and we increased the insulation in our roof. This did not decrease our hydro bills at all.

We are going to have our perfectly functional electric forced air furnace replaced at great expense to us, because we feel compelled to keep trying to find ways to reduce our hydro bills, but it seems to be to no avail. Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals have stated that they are going to remove the 10% Ontario Clean Energy Benefit (the wording is extremely offensive – it’s not a benefit/we should not be paying that 10% to begin with) at the end of this year so there’s a guaranteed 10% increase coming. Bob Chiarelli has stated that Ontarians are not conserving enough and so he’s going to look at stretching out the difference between the on-peak and off-peak rates to force us to conserve more. First of all, this is Ontario, CANADA we should not be living under a dictatorship! Secondly, what more are we supposed to conserve? Are we to do like some other unfortunate Ontarians:  are we supposed to turn off our furnace altogether in the winter?

I am absolutely livid with Hydro One and the Ontario Liberals because I know that I am being overcharged and financially abused. Why am I paying for the United States to take our electricity? Why am I paying “green” energy businesses to install windmills and solar panels for their benefit, not mine? I would like someone to conduct an audit to see what relationships exist between these so-called “green” energy companies and the members of the Ontario Liberal party. I DO NOT TRUST the Ontario Liberal party. I believe they are motivated by greed and cronyism and not by concern for the future of our children and grandchildren.

Over 50% of my bill constitutes outrageous delivery charges (why am I being discriminated against for living in a rural part of the city?), seemingly arbitrary regulatory charges (“cost of services required to operate the electricity system” and “line loss” just what am I paying for?), the intellectually and financially offensive debt retirement charge (how much and for how long do Ontarians have to pay for ineptitude and abuse of power?), and to top it all off, the Ontario government is charging us HST on top of all of those charges. It is disgusting and I suggest to you irresponsible and unethical to charge Ontarians these amounts for an essential service. We live in Ontario CANADA not some third world country.

I DO NOT TRUST Hydro One. I have no idea if the amount of electricity I am being charged for is, in fact, the amount of electricity I am actually using. I do not trust the alleged “smart” meter that is affixed to my home. I cannot read it like I could the previous meters. I do not appreciate being dictated to as to when I can prepare a meal for my family, when I can do my laundry, when I can use my dishwasher, when I can turn the heat up to a COMFORTABLE temperature in my OWN home . When I come home, I change from my work clothes into fleece track pants, a long sleeve top, and a fleece jacket. I wrap myself in a blanket when I am sitting down. I am UNCOMFORTABLE in MY OWN HOME. I do not appreciate receiving letters from Hydro One informing me that I use over 140% more electricity than my neighbours and telling me I could “unplug electronics when they’re not in use” or “ replace inefficient light bulbs” or get a new “water heater”. What am I supposed to do if I’ve already done that?

My husband and I are working citizens. We worked hard to be able to buy our home and to have a little space/privacy and peace and quiet. We did not know there was a penalty for that. As rural Ontarians (may I remind you we live in Ottawa not the northern Ontario wilderness) we are paying dearly for our hydro. We do not even have the option of purchasing natural gas as it is not available here and apparently never will be according to Enbridge.

We are not fools. We know that as Ontarians scrounge to reduce their hydro usage that the rates will continue to go up because Hydro One still has to MAKE MONEY. The President and CEO of Hydro One makes $1,714,000.04 and someone with the title Sr. VP People, Culture & Chief Ethics is making $468,892.21! With the number of people making greater than $100,000 at Hydro One, perhaps they don’t have any basis in reality to understand that the average Ontarian does not make the same kind of money they do and they cannot AFFORD the rates and charges they are faced with. By the way, just in case you didn’t realize it, our Prime Minister only makes $327,400 ($165,000 as Prime Minister and $163,700 as an MP) for running our whole country!

The truly scary thing is that as a member of Hydro One Enough is Enough! I have heard the many heartbreaking stories from people who have had to sell their homes, sell their cars, go without food, go without heat, go without running water, go without Christmas presents for their children. Many of them tried really hard to play by the Ontario Liberal’s and Hydro One’s rules, but that didn’t work out for them. Some tell of moving to places where the hydro is included in their rent. What they don’t realize yet is that eventually their landlords will come after them for the money needed to pay the ever increasing hydro bills. Where will they go then?  The people who live in the cities don’t realize how bad it is yet. Eventually, they will suffer like we are, but I’m afraid it will be too late to do anything about it.

Please help us. We deserve better from our service providers and our provincial government.

Sincerely,

Tracy Simmons