Living better electrically is now a nightmare: Blizzard Toronto Sun

Les Crisp didn’t just buy a home 40 years ago. He bought into Ontario Hydro’s dream: “Live Better Electrically,” the ads said.

Four decades later, that dream has turned Crisp’s electricity bill into a nightmare.

Last year, he spent $6,000 on electricity — and it was a good winter. Usually the price is around $7,000.

He blames Dalton McGuinty’s government for the hike.

“We’re being taxed to death here, but they’re not calling it a tax — they’re just raising the price,” he told me in his modest, GTA-area home.

“They say it’s $1.39 for an average household using 800 kilowatts,” he said. “I’m using 13,000 kilowatt hours.”

Electricity bills will go up another 8% next week, when the HST kicks in. And over the next six months, most analysts expect prices to soar — as rate hikes, time-of-use charges and other costs start to pile up.

By next May, Crisp expects his hydro bill will have gone up 30% — adding another $1,800 to the bill on his 2,300-square-ft. house.

Crisp is innovative in finding ways to cut costs. He’s installed a gas fireplace and spent more than $6,000 installing two direct vent wall furnaces that will eliminate the need for five of the 30 baseboard heaters he has in his house.

In his bill for the first two months of this year, Crisp paid $1,375 for hydro. On top of that, he paid $324.73 for delivery; a $87.13 “regulatory” charge and a debt retirement charge of $90.05

Then he paid $68.85 GST. That tax will go up from 5% to 13% next week.

With time-of-use billing, we’ll all pay 5.3 cents a kwh in off-peak. That rises to 8 cents a kwh at mid-peak times and 9.9 cents in high peak.

Critics point out there isn’t a big enough price differential between low and high use to give much incentive to use appliances in off-hours.

Besides, Crisp can’t heat his home only at night.

What these prices reflect is the high price of new, private gas-fired plants and some refurbished nuclear energy.

All this is without adding in the costs of new, so-called “green” energy.

When you consider OPG’s hydro electricity costs only 3.7 cents a kwh to generate and its nuclear only 5.5 cents, you can see wind and solar — which cost much more — are going to push rates to the stratosphere.

Then there’s the so-called “provincial benefit” that’s included in the bills of homeowners who buy direct from utilities but charged on top of the electricity costs to customers who buy from retailers.

The PB has a complex history, but it was supposed to pay for new generation.

When the price of electricity was high, the PB was a negative amount. Now that prices are low, the PB is soaring to compensate generation companies — at the expense of people who thought they had guaranteed electricity contracts.

It’s ballooned lately because of all the massive green energy contracts and will likely go even higher for residential customers.

None of which helps Les Crisp. He signed on the dotted electrical line when the government told him to do so. Now, 40 years on, the government has fried him.

n n n

Summer’s finally arrived. For some people, that means dinner on the patio. For others, it means a return to patio wars. Many people still don’t understand the Smoke-free Ontario Act.

You can only smoke on a patio if there is no umbrella or overhang over the table. And private clubs that serve food and booze must follow the rules of restaurants.

With a little bit of politeness, we can all get along.

Cheers!

christina.blizzard@sunmedia.ca

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