Seasonal Island residents can expect their electricity bills to increase by $600 to $800 a year
TORONTO – Electricity bills for camp owners and other seasonal rate customers of Hydro One in areas like Manitoulin Island will be seeing a significant increase over the next 10 years. The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has ordered Hydro One to implement the elimination of its seasonal rate class starting January 1, 2023.
“In reality, this is no surprise,” stated Terry Rees, executive director of the Federation of Ontario Cottagers Associations (FOCA). “The OEB had told Hydro One to go back and look at how they would implement the change. So, this latest announcement should come as no surprise to anyone.” FOCA has warned that the new rates will ultimately result in hydro bills doubling for many camp owners.
Mr. Rees said that about 80,000 seasonal-use customers in Ontario are being moved to the low-density residential class and they can expect their electricity bills to increase by $600 to $800 a year.
“One saving grace is they will not be hit with a massive increase all at once. The OEB has acknowledged that the hit will be so painful that they have directed that a 10 year phase-in period approach be taken,” said Mr. Rees.
“With the 10- year phase-in plan, customers will see a 10 percent increase per year for the next 10 years,” said Mr. Rees.
“The increase isn’t going to be felt for everyone, it is for Hydro One customers, and designated for seasonal users,” said Mr. Rees. “Yes, this increase will include Hydro One customers in areas like the North Shore and Manitoulin Island.”
FOCA reported on its website on November 10, “the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has released their decision and order implementing the elimination of the Hydro One seasonal rate class. In summary, the OEB approves Hydro One’s proposed 10-year phase-in of this change beginning January 1, 2023. This approach is intended to limit the total bill increase for affected seasonal customers, including those with low average monthly consumption, to 10 percent (maximum) per year.”
“In its decision the OEB clarified once again that, though separate from this rate decision, eligibility for rebates through the rural and remote electricity rate protection (RRRP) and distribution rate protection (DRP) continues to apply only to Hydro One’s rural year-round residential customers (i.e., low density-R2 class). A year-round residential customer requires eight months of continuous occupation of a dwelling over the year.”
“FOCA reminds everyone that if they believe they qualify for year-round residential status that they should submit a completed declaration form available at https://www.services.hydroone.com/forms1/ResidentialRateStatusDeclaration.aspx) and supporting material to Hydro One.”
“FOCA is concerned about the unrelenting increases in electrical costs for our community,” the release said. “In addition to electricity costs, rural homeowners already shoulder 90 percent of the property tax burden in some rural municipalities! Waterfront property owners represent a significant proportion of many rural communities and support local economic activity through their taxes, local purchases, volunteerism and other forms of community leadership.”
Waterfront property owners represent a major electricity customer group (mostly Hydro One customers) in various rate classes. FOCA members are concerned about rising electrical rates, disparity in rate classes, power outages, and business practices by electricity providers regarding forestry management and use of pesticides, as well as invasive species protection,” the FOCA release continues. “On behalf of our members, FOCA has participated in the OEB hearings as an intervenor for over 20 years. FOCA continues to seek a just and reasonable allocation of costs, among and within the rate classes, as we have members in all these groups,” the release continued.
“I’m sure there will be lots of information coming from the utility to the customer,” Mr. Rees told The Expositor.
“So that’s unfortunately the latest update, the latest chapter,” said Mr. Rees. “It is funny that when we informed people that these increases were being looked at, thousands wrote their MPPs in protest, but when the OEB made the final decision, it is amazing how many Hydro One customers blamed us for the increase. It is not our doing, or anything that we asked for and wanted. Definitely not.”
The OEB decision comes six years after the regulator first decided Hydro One had to eliminate its seasonal class and move customers in that group into its other residential customer classes based on density. Hydro One said the move is necessary because the distribution rates charged to seasonal customers don’t reflect the actual cost of serving them.