Ontarians slammed by rapidly rising electricity bills

Any way you look at it, Ontarians have taken a huge hit on the cost of their electricity bills since 2006.

This article appeared in the Toronto Sun.

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government insists while it still has work to do in bringing down electricity prices in Ontario, compared to other jurisdictions in North America, they’re not that bad.

In the face of opposition charges hydro rates in Ontario are now the highest, or among the highest, in North America, the Liberals respond these rates are actually in the middle of the pack.

So, who to believe and what does it mean?

It’s difficult to come up with accurate comparisons of hydro rates across North America because, depending on how they’re calculated, the results can vary dramatically.

However, Hydro Quebec does an annual comparison of residential hydro rates in major North American cities, standardized for a monthly consumption of 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh), with all prices expressed in Canadian currency.

Its 2016 survey found electricity prices for residential customers in Toronto of 17.81 cents per kilowatt/hour and in Ottawa of 16.15 cents per kilowatt/hour.

This was higher than in Vancouver (10.70); Calgary (10.40); Edmonton (10.37); Regina (14.65); Winnipeg (8.43); Montreal (7.23); Halifax (15.88); Moncton (12.50); Charlottetown (16.02); St. John’s (11.96); Seattle (13.62); Portland (13.94); Chicago (15.19); Nashville (14.28); Houston (11.25) and Miami (11.67).

However, Toronto’s and Ottawa’s electricity rates were lower than in San Francisco (31.05); Detroit (20.24); Boston (27.69) and New York (29.52).

From this, it appears Ontario’s residential electricity rates are the highest in Canada — in the surveyed cities — although the Liberals would argue that starting in 2017 they have made prices more competitive by eliminating the 8% provincial portion of the HST on them.

Of equal importance when it comes to pricing, however, is not just the rate itself, but the rate of increase or decrease in electricity prices.

Electricity rates in New York, for example, have long been higher than in Canada, and are part of an overall cost of living people living in any community adjust to over time.

In this context, the sharp increases in Ontario electricity prices are clearly cause for concern.

Brady Yauch, executive director and economist with the Consumer Policy Institute noted in a Toronto Sun column last February that residential electricity prices in Ontario over the previous nine years had increased at a faster rate than anywhere else in North America.

Yauch found prices charged by Hydro One, Toronto Hydro and Hydro Ottawa, providing electricity to almost half of Ontario’s residential customers, rose between 68% and 72%, more than in Canada’s nine other provinces and in the 50 American states, where the average increase during the same period was 22%.

Electricity prices in Ontario also went up much faster than the cost of other goods and services during that period, including food (30%), shelter (20%) and wages (25%).

In other words, any way you look at it, Ontarians have taken a huge hit on the cost of their electricity bills since 2006.

Read the original study here. 

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One thought on “Ontarians slammed by rapidly rising electricity bills

  1. In Toronto and Ottawa the average residential consumption is around 625 kWh/month.
    The Hydro Quebec summary does include a comparison at 625 kWh/month, but it’s on page 31 – without the catchy graphics they give the mostly fictitious, but widely noted, 1000 kWh/month. At 625 kWh/mnth Detroit, after HQ adjusted for currency shows slightly higher than Toronto, and Boston, New York and San Francisco are significantly higher.

    It’s questionable if residential rates should be adjusted for currency – this is not useful in terms of share of disposable income.

    It’s more questionable if residences and average consumption should be ignored. Average usage in San Francisco is far lower, with relevant factors I suspect being weather, dwelling size and rate plans tiered to punish consumers of over 5-600 kWh/month. New York city is dwelling size (again lower average residential consumption) – and I suspect Boston is similar.

    Regardless, those cities are exceptions in the US – higher than costs elsewhere in the contiguous states.Toronto’s rates are lower than much of Ontario’s.

    The rates have been escalating in Ontario and that’s why so many in the province notice rates now. I find the HQ report a convenient tool for apologists – which isn’t the reports fault. Perhaps we should respond with a comparison of household incomes, in Canadian currency, where HQ shows costs higher than here.

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