By Michael Christianson
Last week Hydro One and the Ontario Energy Board were in Dryden as part of their ongoing community meetings but only a handful of ratepayers showed up to the meeting at the Legion.
The meeting was focused on two components, the Fair Hydro Plan and Hydro One’s request for a rate increase.
The Ontario Fair Hydro Plan took effect on June 1, 2017. The act is expected to enable the government to move forward with initiatives that it has stated will lower electricity bills, hold increases to the rate of inflation for four years and provide additional relief for residential customers in rural and remote areas as well as on-reserve First Nations residential customers.
“Under the Fair Hydro plan the majority of Hydro One Customers will save on average 31% on their bill, for those customers that will be about $600 over the course of the year,” said Jay Armitage, Director of Communications Hydro One. “For our customers who are rural and use even more electricity the savings will be even greater.”
Meanwhile Hydro One has submitted a request to raise rates to the OEB, the driving force behind that being aging infrastructure. Statistics presented at the session cited 280,000 hydro poles are at or beyond their expected life in 2017 and another 120,000 will need to be replaced within the next five years.
“Utilities rarely get what they ask for so the board’s process has downward pressure on rates,” said OEB registrar Kristi Sebalj. “We’ve reviewed about 130 major rate applications since 2009 and as a result of our process utilities have received about 40% less than what they asked for and that translates to us holding delivery rates to about the price of inflation since 2009.”
Sebalj says OEB is reviewing Hydro One’s five year plan and that they will conduct independent checks on all the evidence submitted by Hydro One.
“We’ve done seven sessions across the province and what I can say is although this was a small group it was a highly engaged group of folks from Dryden and area asking really smart questions and we’ve really appreciated the opportunity to connect with customers and engage with them about the issues they are facing and to reassure them their bills are going to be coming down overall once you see the fair hydro plan implemented,” said Armitage.
Those who could not attend are encouraged to check out the webinar online July 12.