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Cap removed Hydro prices increasing

Hydro rates increasing again

The Mississauga News - March 31, 2004
by Declan Finucane

Mississauga residents will pay more to light their homes and run their dishwashers starting tomorrow, but the full brunt of rising energy costs won't hit until the next bill arrives.

Effective Thursday, under the provincial government's new energy conservation plan, electricity prices will increase to 4.7 cents per kilowatt hour for the first 750 kilowatts used by a household each month, and 5.5 cents after that mark. The rate had been capped by the previous Tory government at 4.3 cents per kilowatt hour.

The average household uses approximately 1,000 kilowatt hours of energy each month, according to several estimates, meaning residents are going to have to do a better job of conserving electricity or dig deeper into their pockets to pay the piper. For example, a household billed at 1,000 kilowatt hours of energy consumption will now have to pay $49. Under the previous capped rate, the same usage would cost $43.

Several residents who spoke to The News about the new energy rates said they haven't given the matter much thought, but acknowledged their feelings could change when they get their first new bill.

Meadowvale homeowner Frank Elliott said striving to conserve energy is crucial, but "...taxpayers always seem to get hit.

"We're going to have to pay, because there's no alternative...we all need to use our lights," said Elliott. "But, it just seems the government, whether provincial or federal, is always trying to get deeper into our pockets."

Mississauga resident Kate Marshall said she would rather pay a few dollars more if the extra cash will help prevent future electricity shortages. She said last August's massive blackout that crippled Ontario and the U.S. northeast was a clear reminder of how much everyone depends on a plentiful energy supply.

"We all have to be more aware when it comes to conserving energy," said Marshall.

Queen's Park may have to prepare itself for a jolt as well once taxpayers see their next energy bills.

Mississauga South Liberal MPP Tim Peterson, who defended the new rate as being necessary to ensure enough future supply, conceded there may be public backlash.

"We're getting a favourable response so far (to our plan)," said Peterson, but, "...when the (next) bills come through, the phones might start ringing. If that's the case, we'll have to weather it...some costs have to be increased. "The Tories left a lot of debt with (energy) rates that were too low."

Energy Minister Dwight Duncan said he believes the new rate is the right price to offset Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) losses and keep the power flowing. OPG supplies the province's electricity.

The installation of "smart" electricity meters in every household is another measure being considered by Queen's Park under its energy conservation scheme.

The government's goal is to cut power use by 5 per cent by 2007.

The new meters measure when people use their electricity so they can get cheaper rates in off-peak hours such as late at night. In essence, the initiative encourages people to run their dishwashers and washing machines late at night to save a few bucks.

Although residents will have to pay part of the yet-to-be-determined cost to install the meters, they will save money down the road under a new billing system that rewards energy-conscious consumers, said Premier Dalton McGuinty.

The Province has not set a date for installation of the devices.

According to the Independent Electricity Market Operator, the group responsible for operating and regulating the wholesale electricity market to ensure fairness and effectiveness, Ontario's electricity supply is substantially better now than it was a year ago.

Still, shortages could develop in the next 18 months, the group said.

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