Island resident joins in opposition to Hydro One pre-paid meters proposal

By Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

SPRING BAY—A Spring Bay woman has joined those opposed to the proposed prepaid hydro meters and has voiced these concerns to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).

“I have sent a letter to the OEB in regards to the (hydro) current rates application they have made. However, my letter was in regards to the pre-paid smart meter section they snuck in there,” said  Tanya Giles last week.

In her letter to the OEB she wrote, “I do not agree with increasing our hydro rates, however, I am writing today in regards to the pre paid smart meter section to this application.”

“The document states this would be an “effective way to collect payment from its customers, and would reduce uncollectable accounts receivables,” wrote Ms. Giles. “This is contrary to what Ferio Pugliese, Hydro One’s executive vice-president customer care and corporate affairs, stated in a recent article published by CBC. He says “it would not be  used as a collection tool.”

“We also have Mr. Pugliese saying that contrary to the language in this application, customers will not be disconnected during the winter months. However the language in the application still leaves a loophole for winter disconnections to continue. Even after recently passed legislation from the government was to prevent this from happening,” wrote Ms. Giles. “This should have been specified and clarified in this application.”

“We are also told by the Minister of Energy that this program will be an “opt-in” program where customers are not forced to have a pre paid smart meter. However, the application also states ‘Hydro One will implement technology and process changes to encourage customers to promptly pay their bills. Hydro One will be able to implement pre-paid metering which is an effective way to collect payment from its customers’?” wrote Ms. Giles. “This does not sound like an ‘opt-in’ option,” she said.

Ms. Giles explained, “the Minister of Energy made reference to two paragraphs on page 2003 of the application during question period. However, there are also other pages discussing the implementation of pre paid smart meters.”

“I feel that this section of this application, as well and any prepaid smart meter content should be removed entirely,” wrote Ms. Giles. “The language in this application is contrary to what is being said by the Minister of Energy and Hydro One’s executive vice-president of customer care and corporate affairs. This alone should be concerning. I hope the discrepancies, loopholes and contradictions between what has been presented to the OEB and what is being told to Ontarians can be corrected. The implementation of pre paid smart meters in any capacity should be off the table.”

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault has said the OEB was reviewing Hydro One’s application and has not approved the application thus far.

Mr. Thibeault  also told PostMedia that Hydro One customers will be able to opt in or out of the proposed program to pre pay electricity bills. He also said the application by Hydro One, to replace some smart meters with new pre paid meters, won’t target the poor.

NDP MPP Peter Tabuns, who raised the issue last week in the Ontario legislature, suggested the minister isn’t credible when he says requiring consumers to pare-pay for power won’t focus on the poor.

“I think they’re going to say to people who have a bad credit rating or have arrears, here’s the meter we’re putting in…if you want power, here’s the meter that you’re going to have to have,” Mr. Tabuns was quoted in Post Media as saying.

Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha said, “the government needs to come out and say no to this Hydro One request…end of story. These type of suggestions should not be proposed, as regardless how it all plays out it will mean more hardship for Ontario families.”

NDP leader Andrea Horwath has demanded that Ontario ban the use of pre pay hydro meters that she says forces families to feed the meter to turn the electricity on.