Tag Archives: toronto hydro

Quote of the Day

Image result for buried under bills

“It is only by not paying one’s bills that one can hope to live in the memory of the commercial classes.”

Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)

Word.

O-dubs was a smart guy, that one. Although he grew up with not one but two governesses, he was grounded enough to know the role/burden that bills play in our lives. It may not be the sexiest subject, but it’s one of the few things on this planet that connects almost every human being. And while us peons who hang out on the bottom rungs of the financial ladder scoff at it, even millionaires stress out about bills and go broke all the time.

They* say there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. Well, there should be a third: bill collectors. All bills should come with a warning at the beginning – PAY NOW OR WE WILL HUNT YOU DOWN AND, IF NECESSARY, KIDNAP YOUR PETS. HOW DO YOU LIKE ‘DEM APPLES NOW, MR./MS. CUSTOMER!

I was reminded of Wilde’s quote recently when a story surfaced in the newspaper about a hapless guy in T.O. who lived with his two kids and very nearly lost his electricity. Apparently after working out a plan with the hydro company to split the bill into three portions, he was told he was “lucky” his electricity wouldn’t be discontinued because the provincial government has mandated that June 1 still be deemed a “cold month” in Toronto. Therefore, the hydro company is by law not allowed to cut off this guy’s power.

(You mean it actually pays to live in a cold place like Canada?)

Yet if it had been July 1, he claims he would have been up a river, under the waterfalls, his dingy deflating after being punctured by falling rocks, and, of course, without a paddle.

Does that seem remotely fair, just or legal?

Who cares!

So, my dear friends who work as bill collectors or hired goons for loan sharks, I thank you on behalf of that wretched father and his children from the bottom of my heart for your sympathy. Scratch that – your empathy, for you clearly understand the human condition as well as Trump understands the word “truth” and North Korea understands the term “real world.”

 

* You know, “they”! Those two some guys and gals we all know of but have never actually met.

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Toronto Hydro, Highway Robbery & A French Novel

                                         

You might be wondering what these two images have in common. That is a fair and righteous question. Let me explain.

After receiving my latest hydro bill, I nearly went apoplectic (see going postal in your own mind). Although I’ve been extremely conscientious about power usage at peak hours and using my dishwasher only at off-peak hours, my monthly bill seems to continue growing like a beanstalk into outer space. You know. Or something like that.

Yesterday I’d had enough and decided to go sleuthing. I signed into my personal page on the TH website and looked at my power usage for every single month I’ve been living at my current apartment. Sure enough, things didn’t add up. There was some stinky cheese at play in Denmark. When I phoned up the good folks at TH, I got a very pleasant woman who was kind enough to address my questions. She was intelligent, polite and professional. That, however, did nothing to mollify my apoplexy because it turns out my usage is in fact quite low and that I’ve been using most of my energy at off-peak hours. Why the constant bills in the hundreds of dollars, then? The answer is a plot worthy of an Alexandre Dumas novel.

While my cheapest energy usage has been $18 for the month, and my most expensive about $60, my hydro bills are consistently three figures. The discrepancy? Delivery. It actually costs more to deliver the energy than to produce it. How much more? Between 1.5 and 3 times more to get me the stupid stuff than to actually produce it. Curious as to how this delivery charge is broken down, I was told “It’s complicated. It’s broken down into a lot of different things, you know, like, ah, so many things, you know?” When I asked if that info was on the site like my usage stats, the customer service rep. said, “Unfortunately, it’s not.”

To clarify, cut through and capture the essence of what had just happened (in Gordon Gekko’s parlance): Unless you are lighting up a stadium, the delivery charge is always going to outpace the usage cost of your electricity as a residential customer, making it more expensive than any other household fixed cost. How is this possible? At 369.5 TWh, Canada has the world’s second highest annual production of hydroelectricity (after China) and second highest production rate per capita  (after Norway), accounting for more than 61% of our total energy production because, hey, we’ve got a lot of water here.

So what the Frankfurt is going on? It’s almost like Toronto Hydro, Hydro One (the provincial organization taking part in this dog and pony show), and the provincial government represent the villains Mondego, Danglars, and the double-dealing Magistrate, Villefort, respectively, in The Count of Monte Cristo. And we as Ontarians are collectively represented by Edmond Dantès, imprisoned without trial inside the Château d’If.

The question, of course, is when and how we as tax-paying citizens who contribute to the lavish paycheques of these hydro companies’ employees ($1.5 million a year for the outgoing CEO of Hydro One?), wasted resources, and overpriced electricity will exact revenge. The sad truth of the matter was summed up by Queen’s Park columnist Christina Blizzard last June: “Seniors weep when they open their hydro bills. Often they must make a choice between heating their home or buying groceries. And yet we’re paying millions for neighbouring jurisdictions to take excess electricity off our hands? It’s unconscionable — the outcome of a failed Green Energy Act that’s cost this province billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

 

 

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