Until recently the only jurisdiction in North America with higher all-in residential electricity rates than Ontario was Hawaii. The website for Hawaiian Electric in a media release March 14, 2016 bragged about their electricity rates being at a six-year low, even though Oahu had an effective rate of 22.6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and that rate included their distribution costs.
The title for most expensive rates now belongs to Hydro One, whose low-density clients pay 25.9 cents per kWh and medium-density clients pay 22.6 cents per kWh effectively, in a tie with Oahu. Add in the HST and the price jumps to over 27 cents per kWh for low-density ratepayers.
Hydro One’s website has a chart outlining their Delivery Rates for “Medium” and “Low Density” ratepayers — the differences are significant compared to “Urban High Density”. As an example, the Distribution service charge for medium-density is $8.02 higher per month ($96.00 annually) and $20.46 higher ($245.00 annually) for low-density ratepayers. On top of that the claimed “line losses” for low-density ratepayers is almost double that for urban ratepayers at over 10%. That means people are charged for kilowatt hours they didn’t consume.
Hydro One’s definitions of Medium and Low Density are: “Medium Density – contains 100 or more customers, with at least 15 customers for every kilometer of power line used to supply energy to the zone. Low Density – the remaining area not covered by Urban or Medium Density areas.”
It’s not clear exactly how or when densities are reviewed to determine whether the rate classification should change as it is not outlined in OEB’s approvals for rate increases.
27 cents/kWh for the average user in Ontario today
Now examining just the delivery costs for the three “average”1. residential ratepayer definitions, Urban customers pay 6.6 cents/kWh, medium-density pay 9.05 cents/kWh and low-density 12.55 cents/kWh. The latter is a higher cost per kWh than the electricity supplied and as noted above combined with the cost of electricity and HST brings the price to over 27 cents/kWh for the “average” residential low-density ratepayer.
Looking back to an Ontario Energy Board (OEB) ruling on March 15, 2005 in respect to increased Hydro One Distribution rates, the OEB granted them rate increases related to regulatory assets and conservation spending. The calculation of their delivery rates from the OEB’s approval disclosed: urban customer rates were set at 3.4 cents/kWh, medium density at 4.25 cents/kWh and low density 8.2 cents/kWh.
Since then, delivery rates from Hydro One have jumped 94% for urban, 113% for medium-density and 53% for low-density ratepayers in that 11 years.
Not stopping here
We should expect more OEB-approved increases.
According to Hydro One’s annual report, the “net-zero” settlement claim with their workers will shortly become a submission for a further rate increase, that will again raise delivery rates as this excerpt from the Annual 2015 Report indicates: “Share-based Compensation-The Company recognizes costs associated with stock-based compensation in a regulatory asset as management considers it probable that stock-based compensation costs will be recovered in the future through the rate-setting process.”
No need to wonder what is causing “energy poverty”2. in Ontario — all you need to do is examine the books of Hydro One, their submissions to the OEB, and the blessing of all their requests by the OEB.
© Parker Gallant
August 10, 2016
- The average “residential” ratepayer is classified by the OEB as consuming 750 kWh per month or 9 megawatt hours (MWh) annually.
- Energy Poverty is generally defined as spending 10% of household income on home energy as this article link to the Homeless Hub notes: http://homelesshub.ca/toolkit/subchapter/what-energy-poverty