On hydro bills, families need a chance to catch-up
(Queen's Park Report - February 17, 2011) The most common concern of Ontario families and businesses is the escalating cost of hydro. It’s reflected in the emails and phone calls I receive from constituents every day. Dalton McGuinty has led us down a path towards unaffordable electricity. Here’s how Tim Hudak and I believe we can begin to change course.
Our solutions start with giving ratepayers a choice on time-of-use
pricing and smart meters. We think smart meters are nothing but tax
machines. The current structure sees consumers paying higher prices for
electricity during all peak hours, regardless of whether demand
response is needed.
It does not make sense on a spring day, when there is adequate supply, to force families to pay more for electricity. That’s why we will allow families the choice to turn their smart meters off.
We also believe it’s time to retire the debt retirement charge. This debt was supposed to be paid off and removed from hydro bills in 2012. We should be celebrating the end of this unforgettable liability that dates back to David Peterson’s government and its decisions around Darlington.
Instead, without any explanation, Dalton McGuinty extended the charge to 2018, costing families $1 billion per year plus HST. Here’s how we propose to get rid of the charge.
First, we’ll have a forensic audit to see what the current balance is and to find out what Dalton McGuinty has done to the account. If there remains a balance, we’ll put the total remaining on your hydro bill so that you can see what debt remains and how long it will take to pay it off, just like you’d see on a credit card statement.
Doing this will make it transparent and remove the ability for government to turn this charge into a permanent tax grab. If there is no remaining debt, we will remove the charge as soon as possible.
We’ll also address hydro rates. Our commitment is to treat energy policy as an economic policy instead of the social policy that Dalton McGuinty has turned it into that has caused rates to rise by 75% since 2003. These failed policies are the reason that rates are set to rise by a further 46% over the next five years.
Make no mistake about it, we support renewable energy, but we cannot continue to pursue green energy policies that unnecessarily drive up the cost for consumers and have punitive results on our broader economy.
Instead, we will work to ensure a reliable supply of electricity that respects that good energy policy is good economic policy.
We’ll also ensure that the interests of consumers’ come first by creating a dedicated Consumer Advocate at the Ontario Energy Board to represent the interests of ratepayers and ensure political interests don’t trump a family’s ability to pay.
Tim Hudak and I believe that we owe it to the families who pay the bills, and we owe it to ourselves to establish a stable marketplace that will attract investment to Ontario’s economy. We think these practical ideas are a good way to start.