Energy bills to reduce 25%, Wynne announces

Hydro rate increases will be held to the inflation rate for the next four years after being slashed by 25 per cent this year, says Premier Kathleen Wynne.

The Liberal government faces no bigger political issue at the moment than hydro bills, which have almost doubled in the last decade.

Ontario hydro rates have been the most contentious issue for the Wynne government as it moves closer to a 2018 election campaign.

Hydro isn't a luxury, Horwath stated, and shouldn't be priced like one. The NDP want participation in the program to no longer be mandatory, but for people to have a choice based on what rates are the most reasonable for them.

"For too long, governments, my own included, have made mistakes in the way we've structured Ontario's electricity system", she said.

Ratepayers in rural parts of Ontario would also see their distribution costs from local utility providers reduced and First Nations residential consumers would see the on-reserve delivery charge removed completely.

In total, the reduction amounts to 25 per cent when compounded with Ontario's eight per cent HST hydro rebate that took effect January 1 and will hold with the rate of inflation for four years.

"This will mean we will need to fill the gap and import electricity, increasing costs to Ontarians".

"We know the message is one that needs to continually be told", said Kooy, adding that Horwath's visit was appreciated by all in attendance.

The NDP would also eliminate time-of-use pricing - it arrived with smart meters that were meant to reduce power use at peak times, but which have come under criticism for not delivering - and make permanent the Liberals' eight-per-cent rebate on bills while also negotiating with Ottawa to remove the federal portion of the HST from bills. But the fact is, any politician who promises low electricity rates is selling a lie - one that all of us end up paying for sooner or later.

Wynne has already signalled that more savings will be coming for rural and northern ratepayers, who face significantly higher costs than urban customers, and Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault suggested changes are on the way for time-of-use pricing. To relieve that burden and share costs more fairly, two system fixes are being undertaken.

The PrCs have also called for such contracts to be renegotiated. In addition, a number of important programs, such as the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP), will now be funded by the government instead of by ratepayers.

  • Leroy Wright