Hydro One’s shopping list: new Smart Meters”!

Ka-ching! And, Hydro One is considering asking you to pay for electricity up-front …

Electricity: soon to be a luxury in Ontario? More families choose between heat, or eat

It was just a couple of years ago when then Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin issued his damning report about Hydro One’s billing errors. As quoted by the Globe and Mail, “Hydro One issued faulty bills to more than 100,000 customers, lied to the government and regulators in a bid to cover up the problem, then spent $88.3-million in public funds to repair the damage.”

The Office of the Ombudsman cannot now report on Hydro One due to partial privatization, so ratepayers obtaining their electricity from them should be prepared for this monopoly to do whatever it wants.

Prior to the release of the Ombudsman’s report the OEB said this:  “On March 26, 2015, the OEB issued a Decision and Order to amend Hydro One’s distribution license to include an exemption from the requirement to apply TOU pricing to approximately 170,000 Regulated Price Plan customers that are outside the smart meter telecommunications infrastructure. The exemption expires December 31, 2019.”

Those 170,000 RRP customers represented about 14% of Hydro One’s customer base. In December of 2015 the Ontario Auditor General in her annual report noted: “Hydro One installed 1.2 million smart meters on its distribution system at a cost of $660 million”. The math on that indicates a probable cost per meter of $550 each, including the 170,000 meters that aren’t working as they should. Now, Hydro One is back in front of the OEB seeking rate increases that will impact their ratepayers for the next five years. They are submitting thousands of pages of documents to justify their needs to increase distribution rates by 1.56cents/kWh for their rate-paying clients.

Looking at one of the Hydro One application documents, you find the following (untenable) claim related to smart meters: “There is a significant increase in projected spending in 2022, which reflects the anticipated commencement of smart meter replacement, as the current population of smart meters approach end of service life.”

This should alarm Hydro One customers—should we once again be concerned about billing problems? Will the replacements once again fall short of being able to communicate data?

Ontario’s record with smart meters is not stellar. A report issued in August 2016 by The Brattle Group report notes: “Besides Italy, Ontario is the only region in the world to roll-out smart meters to all its residential customers and to deploy TOU rates for generation charges to all customers who stay with regulated supply.” The old mechanical meters were much cheaper and longer lasting as an article from 2010 states: “Itron, which formerly produced mechanical meters and now makes smart meters, said that older instruments generally have a lifespan of about 30 years before they start to slow down.”

Another disturbing issue is found on page 2038 in yet another of the documents submitted for the rate increase discloses Hydro One’s plans when it comes to ratepayers who are slow to pay their bills:

“One method of enabling customer control of their electricity consumptions, while in arrears condition, and minimizing Hydro One Network’s financial risk, is through the use of pre-paid meters. Pre-paid meters are a type of energy meter that requires users to pay for energy before using it. This is done via a smartcard, token or key that can be ‘topped up’ at a corner shop, via a smartphone application or online. For customers who are high collection risk, the financial risk will be minimized by rolling out this type of meter. With a pre-paid meter, electricity is paid up-front. Once the pre-paid amount is used up, power is cut-off until the customer is able to load the meter with more credits.”

 If the OEB backs off on their muscle flexing and grants Hydro One’s wishes, ratepayers should expect they will have to prepay their anticipated electricity usage or have their power cut off.

Sad times for Ontario as power becomes a luxury, and many more households face the “heat or eat” dilemma!

 

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Author: parkergallantenergyperspectivesblog

Retired international banker.

15 thoughts on “Hydro One’s shopping list: new Smart Meters”!”

  1. When I were a lad in the UK, most people had meters for the power. If you didn’t put a shilling in the meter, no power for you! So pre-paying is not by any means a new idea, but bringing it back in the 21st century does not seem like a positive move.

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  2. I spewed about this in great lengths months ago… by transferring hydro customers to pay as you go then… like your phone if you dont have the cash to keep your phone going then… too bad its your fault your phone dont work!!! It takes the emotion out of the “disconnection “… not our fault you cant buy hydro…. by doing so you remove hydro from the “basic essentials” list!!!

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  3. Just as Cheryl Gallant, MP warned all residents in Ontario.
    Just as Cheryl warned Ontario residents would happen! Anyone who thinks the collapse of the energy pipeline is naïve. Lack of competition will drive up electricity prices even more.

    By Cheryl Gallant, MP Renfrew-Nipissing- Pembroke October 2016

    Energy Poverty Means Pre-Paying

    This should be no surprise to Ottawa Valley residents who are all too familiar with the close political party relationship between Ottawa and Toronto.

    Federal Agency Measurement Canada is preparing to finalize approval for “pre-pay” hydro meters. This was only a matter of time since the province installed so-called “smart meters” in people’s homes.

    The announcement by the Federal Government that the designation of “provisional” specification to a “full” specification follows a public mandate letter recently sent by the Toronto Liberal leader to her Minister of Finance bragging about the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) being part of the federal budget.

    What I predicted before the last election is now happening. I predicted that all Canadian taxpayers would end up with part of the bill for Ontario Liberals’ policy disasters. It was predictable because the same policy advisers in Queen’s Park, who wrote the “Greed” Energy Act and fled Toronto, are now hiding in Ottawa as the most senior advisers of the federal Liberal Party. The cozy relationship between the Prime Minister and the Ontario premier is bad for all taxpayers, just as I warned Canadians before the last election.

    Implied Consent

    Pre-payment meters were given provisional approval before the liberal “Greed” Energy and Employment Act had raised electricity prices. Hydro One had not been sold, nor had the “smart meter” electricity scandal cost electricity consumers over a billion dollars. On the basis of no comments or requests from the public or industry back then, the federal government has assumed “implied consent,” which in their way of thinking gives approval to move full speed ahead.

    To picture a pre-payment electricity meter, just think of a parking meter that you load with money in order to park a vehicle. These are popular in third-world countries, particularly where poor people have no access to credit. They enable the power utilities to deny access to a basic necessity without actually having to pull the plug if customers have trouble with bills. It forces the poor household to self-disconnect.

    Energy poverty, defined as households that spend more than 10 percent of their income on home energy, affects about one million households in Canada. In Ontario, the lowest income group spends on average 12 or more percent of their income on utilities, while the average Ontarian spends only 4 per cent.

    Energy poverty is prevalent among certain types of households, including those with single residents, seniors, children or young adults, renters, and those with a female primary bill-payer. Low-income families and individuals are being forced to choose between heating their homes, buying groceries or paying the rent as the result of increasing utility prices. For many, it is literally a choice between eating and heating.

    The vast majority of Canada’s seniors (as well as low-income families) live in older houses, with inadequate insulation in attics, walls and basements. For young families just starting out, while these houses may offer cheaper than-average rent or require lower down payments than more efficient homes, their upkeep is costlier, particularly when forced to use electric heat in Ontario.

    Climate change policies raise energy costs. As a rule of thumb, the more the increase in fuel poverty, the greater the rhetoric about “climate change”. Canada had been following a smart policy to lower emissions. With the change in Ottawa and no one to moderate the extremists in Toronto, energy poverty is the new norm.

    Canadians still have an opportunity to withhold their “implied consent” to poverty meters. While the federal government has set a January 1st 2017 implementation date for its new policy, you are invited to provide me your thoughts on pre-payment electricity meters. Remember, ‘no comment’ is considered by this government to be a “yes.” The federal government deadline for submissions is October 30, 2016.

    (Another scam consultation, like all the others!)

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  4. OH FOR GOD SAKES! SOMEONE PLEASE PUT THIS BITCH OUT OF HER MISERY! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! HYDRO DOES NOT BELONG TO THE ELITE, ITS GODS GIFT TO US ALL, FREE OF CHARGE! STOP THIS GREED AND INSANITY!

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    1. Safe and affordable energy is an imperative in a developed country…plain and simple. Where was the cost/benefit analysis on industrial scale wind? Why are people of Ontario electing incompetent leaders? This is far too important to our collective future. Where is the Ontario’s Society of Professional Engineers on this mess we’re in?
      Someone needs to ‘grab the reigns’ and tell the truth.

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  5. Hard for anyone out here living amongst the turdbines or soon to be living under many turdbines to believe that any comments or suggestions…. would be viewed as “NIMBYISM”!!!! Now I see in Chatham Kent you not only will be arrested for having a strong valid point but you will also be sued by the governments clients….

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  6. I would advise everyone to make a point of contacting their members of parliament on this one…. electricity is an necessity not a privilege… this is an absolute catastrophe to all Ontarions…. how do we retake power of our electricity grid back from the politicians???

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  7. Good luck to the folks living amongst the turdbine power plants today… better hunker down…. wind capacity has jumped from 10% to 12.4% in one hour…. I wonder if the companies or MOECC will order a shut down of the turdbines today due to hi winds….
    also every single MW of produced turdbines is being spilled over to michigan and NY…. these windy days sure to cost Ontarips alot of physicall … emotional and financial damage….

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