Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Home hydro bills still will go up

TORONTO—Residential consumers still will see their hydro bills go up—even though the governing Liberals are planning to remove the controversial debt retirement charge from their monthly statements in 2016.
The Ontario Clean Energy Benefit, which takes 10 percent off hydro bills, also will expire at the same time. The majority of ratepayers also will be expected to bankroll a proposed program that would offset energy costs for lower-income families.

According to the government, a typical family consuming about 800 kilowatt hours per month would save about $75.60 a year after taxes once the debt retirement charge is removed Jan. 1, 2016. But those savings would be cancelled out by the loss of an $180 annual rebate from the clean energy benefit, which was introduced in 2012.
However, the Liberals are promising a support program for famillies with an income of up to $40,000 that would provide about the same savings as the clean energy benefit after it expires. An eligible family could save, on average, $250 a year when combined with the removal of the DRC, Energy minister Bob Chiarelli said yesterday.
“We fully understand the electricity price pressures facing families, and that’s why we’re taking these steps,” he noted.
“This is real rate relief for those who need it most.”
The program will add about 90 cents on the average monthly bill of the rest of the ratepayers, Chiarelli conceded.
“We feel that this is a very modest trade-off to be made in order to accommodate those who are in significant need.”
By getting ratepayers to foot the bill, the Liberals can take all the credit for a program that won’t add to the already-staggering provincial debt they’ve racked up, the Progressive Conservatives charged.
“It’s increasing the hydro bills of the middle class to pay for low-income families,” said Tory finance critic Vic Fedeli.
“At the end of the day, most families in Ontario will end up with a higher hydro bill over it.”
Chiarelli said non-residential electricity users, such as large industries, still would have to pay the debt retirement charge until 2018.
High energy costs already are chasing companies and jobs out of Ontario, Fedeli charged.

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