Published on July 18, 2013 in the Perth Courier
You know something is wrong with Hydro One when more than half of the calls that come into my offices in Perth, Carleton Place, Napanee and Toronto are about the poor quality of service at Hydro One. I receive more calls from people with hydro problems than I do from people who have issues with all of the rest of the Ontario government, of all its ministries and of its more than 600 agencies, boards and commissions.
The number one complaint I hear from residents since the Liberals' Green Energy Act and its cousin the time of use smart meters, is that people have seen their hydro costs double or triple practically overnight. It is simply not believable that so many people increased their electricity usage that much. Unfortunately, there is no way for anyone to check whether they really have or have not used that much electricity. Unlike with the old meters, where you could go out and check your hydro usage to verify whether your Hydro One's actual or estimated bills were correct,
you can't with the new time of use meters. Instead, you must pay whatever arbitrary amount Hydro One bills you.
Many people often criticize banks for their customer service. However, can you imagine a bank that wouldn't give you proof of all of your withdrawal, deposit or payment transactions? Would you willingly be a customer of a bank that prevented ATMs or tellers from providing receipts, and sent you instead only a monthly account balance that could not be independently verified? First off, it would be unlawful for any bank or other business to not issue receipts on request and you probably would find another bank, or even file a lawsuit. But, one thing is for certain, you wouldn't remain a customer.
Unlike most other businesses, Hydro One is a monstrous monopoly and does not need to prove its customer billings to you, the customer. Hydro One customers have no way of verifying
whether or not they used the electricity, or the time of day it was used with time of use smart meters, and neither does Hydro One. No one can double check whether his or her actual or estimated bills are either accurate, or even close.
I have also seen on many occasions where Hydro One provides only estimated bills for up to a year, causing huge burdens and catch up bills for many. And if you refuse to pay, you could be literally left out in the cold.
That's what you get from a monopoly: worsening customer service, increased costs and less accountability.
To be fair, Hydro One's customer service isn't entirely its own fault; many of their failings are due to the fact they have to force you to pay for the failure of the Ontario Green Energy Act.
When the Liberals introduced the Green Energy Act in 2009, I warned Ontario's Legislature that the only way the Liberals
could pay for their plan to pick winners, was by most everyone else becoming losers.
The only way we could pay for over-priced electricity from wind turbines on beautiful Amherst Island, or solar panels in Lanark County would be by gouging every other person in this province. It's sad to realize that every time the sun shines or the winds blow in Ontario each of us gets soaked with another big unverified electricity bill.
All while knowing that Hydro One has shut down our low-cost electricity generators such as hydro and nuclear, and is paying our neighbouring provinces and states to take our "green energy" off our hands.
We obviously need more competition and more choice for Hydro One customers and fewer politicians insisting on dumb smart meters and even dumber "green economics."