Hydro One’s new electricity bills: so pretty, so empty

The Ontario government was recently questioned about advertising in electricity bills and got this response from the Energy Minister: “Hydro One has a pilot project under way in which they’re doing a new bill redesign, helping customers right across the province who are Hydro One customers understand their bills and some of the complexity of the bills. Knowing that they’re getting a 25% reduction on their bills is important.”

The Minister’s added, “It is important that all rate-payers in the province know what is on their bills”. 

The “pilot project” referred to by the Minister was the $15-million spend by Hydro One to design their new bill. This has recently received a lot of media attention with an emphasis on how Hydro One used “behavioural science”* in its design. The government has previously said it uses behavioural science research to “improve services and outcomes.” (See it here)

I’ve already noted the planned spending of $15 million by Hydro One last December in an article: “According to Hydro One they will have ‘A fresh new look to serve you better’. Hydro One appears to be in the process of spending $15 million dollars to make that happen, as explained on page 2032 of one of the dozens of documents filed with the OEB seeking several rate increases.”

The media reported that so far, Hydro One has spent $9 million reinventing their bill and are fully intent on spending the balance of $6 million. So the question is, do the changes add value, make our bills more easily understandable and tell us where all the money is being spent?

If you are curious as to what the new bills look like, Hydro One posted a sample bill (two pages) on their website. Compare your old bill to the new one — developed with the assistance of “behavioural science” — you will immediately notice it is much more colourful!   But finding new or meaningful information is virtually impossible unless you think the box on the right hand side of page one telling you how much Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan saved you is important, even though it is already shown and highlighted on existing bills.

What’s not there? Plenty: the new bills don’t disclose your “service type” which has a significant bearing on what you pay for “delivery” costs, nor do they tell you your average daily consumption over the previous five months.  They don’t disclose the cost of subsidization of Class A ratepayers, how much it cost for curtailed wind or spilled hydro, or how much it cost to sell our surplus energy to our neighbours in New York, Michigan and Quebec, etc.  New understanding of the bills’ “complexity” as suggested by the government is sadly lacking.

Essentially what the new electricity bills demonstrate is “bad behaviour” on the part of Hydro One and the government by spending $15 million for colourful bills!

Parker Gallant

January 17, 2018

 

* “behavioural science” is defined by Merriam Webster as “A science that deals with human action and seeks to generalize about human behaviour in society”

 

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10 thoughts on “Hydro One’s new electricity bills: so pretty, so empty”

  1. Absolutely.

    We received ours a few months back. What a waste. We’ve gone from one piece of paper to two – with less useful information. The electricity usage box (12.5 cm x 8 cm) tells exactly 3 things – the kWh used in the current month, last month, and 12 months ago. (All without necessary information to make the comparison useful, such as was the weather different?) The “What do I need to know?” box (5.8 cm x 8 cm) is an advertisement for the “Fair Hydro Plan” that states some of the bill will be deferred – not mentioning it will have to be paid later, but does not say how much more that will eventually cost. Mind you, the tiny fact that my bill is changing next month does NOT appear in that box but is buried in small font at the bottom of the Page 2 information, where it is easily missed. There are 3 boxes each 6.3 cm x 3.8 cm that use about a 30 point bold font to tell the same information that appears at least one other place in the bill. – What I owe, how much was used in the month, and when my next payment will be made. What a waste of $15 million dollars.

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  2. This government has never cared about taxpayers money. If they don’t take care of the millions is it any wonder that the billions are out of control. 15 million dollars… ARE YOU F***ING KIDDING ME.

    Ron Leamen President – Ottawa South PC Association

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  3. In London Ontario …. hydro london says you can lower your hydro bill by going paperless!!! Its on the local radio station!! Just go paperless and voila!!! Imstant savings!!! Wow eh!!!

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