Even I don't always agree with my opinion


Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop

Posted January 6, 2018 by jim young in Business

“I find it difficult to trust my eyes. Things are never what they seem.” – Emory R. Frie, Enchanted Forest 

For almost 20 years we lived in a townhouse condo unit where the heat (electric) and hydro costs were covered by our condo fees.

So while we had heard of the rising costs of hydro, it was difficult for us to determine with any degree of accuracy how much our hydro usage contributed to rising condo fees.

Nor did we have a lot of control over rising hydro costs. While we tended to be very conscious of our hydro usage, many of the other units were rentals whose tenants seem to be completely unconcerned of wasted energy as we often noted lights on all hours of the day and night, open windows in the winter etc.

But a few years ago, we purchased a home in the country, also heated primarily by electric heat. I began to track our hydro usage in depth by reading the meter on a very regular basis, (weekly for the last year and a half that we have lived here permanently.)

I also note what the indoor and outdoor temperatures are, as well as any unusual weather conditions or anything else that might offer some incite to otherwise unexplained spikes in usage.

Unfortunately, Hydro One’s seemingly constant restructuring of billing has made determining a cost average of kWh/$ usage impossible to predict.

In 2014 we were being charged amount for the first y kWh of usage and a different amount for any usage thereafter, where the first y kWh and sometimes even changed almost as fast as the numbers on our meter.

It didn’t help that some of the charges were based on “estimates” vs “actual” meter readings with adjustments made every 3 months making it even harder to determine real monthly costs.

If that wasn’t bad enough, there were some other variable charges such as Delivery Charges (which were incurred even if there was NO hydro delivered in any given month), Regulatory Charges and the most ridiculous of all the Debt Retirement Charge. Seriously, what other company would be so bold as to bill its customers directly for their bad debts? Don’t bad debts usually come out of profits?

Then, almost as an afterthought, in a feeble attempt to encourage the customer to feel good about their bill, Hydro One offered a token credit in the form of the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit. What the fuck is that even?

Hydro One described it, on its bills as “10% off applicable electricity charges and taxes.” How in the world is a customer who is trying to take responsibility for their Hydro Charges AND check the integrity of Hydro One’s billing supposed to determine how much of their electricity charges and taxes are “applicable”?

In an effort to keep up with our Hydro One costs, we have been forced to increase our monthly Hydro One budget 6 times in the past 3 years, only one of which was a result of anticipated increased usage. (ie: when we moved here full time.)

We have now lived in our home in Northern Ontario for about a year and a half and I am finally starting to compile some numbers that, are starting to become a little more meaningful for our budgeting purposes. After all – our Hydro One bill is our largest single monthly expense and deserves the most attention.

A few months ago Hydro One revamped their billing system once again and has been using a system of charging for kWh usage based on peak periods.

While this may arguably be a “fair” way to charge for hydro usage, save me going out and reading the meter 3 times a day, it does nothing to help me predict my monthly Hydro One costs. Of course there’s still the variable Delivery and Regulatory charges to contend with as well.

BUT… Here’s an interesting find. I have noticed that during our latest billing period from Nov-23-17 to Dec-21-17, we used an average of 109 kWh per day.

Coincidently, during that exact same 28 day period last year (2016) we also used an average of exactly 109 kWh per day.  

Finally, something to compare.

During that billing period in 2017 our total for new charges was $385.79 compared to $702.04 the year before.

Is it safe to assume our monthly Hydro One bill has decreased by a whooping 45%? I sincerly doubt that.

Now, I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but you’ll excuse me if you don’t see me jumping up and down for joy. Unfortunately neither Hydro One nor the Wynne Government have earned that kind of credibility.

I’ll take that kind of savings of course, even if it’s just for 1 month but for a company that pays its CEO, Mayo Schmidt double the salary of his next highest paid counterpart and more than 10 times as much as others at a rate of over 4 million dollars a year, I know damn well – who’s still overpaying for Hydro One services.

While waiting for the other shoe to drop, I’ll continue to monitor my Hydro One expenses very, very closely in spite of all the obstacles they throw at me.

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