Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
Paying the price for energy gluttony
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 21 Apr 2006, p. 6

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Paying the price for energy gluttony

While last week's announced hydro rate hike by the Ontario Energy Board may be a bitter pill for homeowners and businesses to swallow, it should surprise no one. Two and a half years after the lights went out across Halton Hills during the widespread blackout of 2003, we don't seem to be getting the message that we have been living a lie where hydro rates are concerned. When the residential hydro rate jumps from 5 cents to 5.8 cents per-kilowatt next month, we will all feel it in our wallets, but will any of us do anything to change our hydro consumption habits? According to the OEB, the hot summer of 2005 resulted in more frequent use of air conditioning in Ontario homes. That, in turn, required the province to import power and use electricity generated by natural-gas powered plants at a much higher cost than anticipated. The increased energy use resulted in a $384-million shortfall, which generated the need for last week's announced rate hike. The 5.8-cent rate applies to the first 600 kilowatt-hours used. Beyond that the rate will soar to 6.7-cent (formerly 5.8 cents) per kilowatt-hour until November, when the 5.8-cent rate will be charged for the first 1,000 kwh-- taking into account the number of Ontario homes that depend on electric heating in winter. For the average Halton Hills homeowner the initial increase will result in an additional charge of $11.92 per month. Depending on your hydro use that number could actually be higher or lower. Subsidizing the true cost to supply hydro to our province is what created this hydro mess in the first place. We have only successive provincial governments and, by extension, ourselves to blame for today's unstable rates. For low-income families the announced rate hike -- which comes into effect on May 1-- is the latest in a series of financial pressures that have included higher bank interest rates, increased property taxes and gasoline prices that dance around the $1 per litre mark. We suspect that the $100 million set aside to provide one-time rebates of between $60 and $120 for the province's 1.5 million lowest-income families will be spent in short order. If society can't gain control of its gluttonous hydro use, we should expect similar bad news next year-- perhaps sooner.

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21 Apr 2006
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Ontario Energy Board ; OEB
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Paying the price for energy gluttony