OEB and OPG seek input on proposed rate hikes

TORONTO—Every year, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) set out a schedule of accounts that contain credits and debits and puts in motion the process to reconcile those accounts to bring them to zero. An advertisement in this week’s Manitoulin Expositor announces a public hearing process that will take written submissions on the proposed plans by the OEB to reconcile those variance accounts.

The advertisement notes that the bottom line of these changes will result in a $3.08 increase in consumers’ bills.

These increases come on the heels of the board’s December ruminations, which resulted in a 2.1 percent increase to the average consumer’s bill. That estimate comes from OEB spokesperson Karen Cormier, who spoke with The Expositor when contacted on Monday (January 26) to help explain what the advertisement was saying.

According to Ms. Cormier, that December increase was roughly 50 percent determined by an estimate by the board of what the electricity would cost in the coming year and the other half of the new rate by the other four line items on the consumer’s energy bill (debt recovery, transmission costs etc). The December reconciliation contained an estimate of what the OPG increases would be, while this latest round will deal with the actual amounts.

“The board is looking out for the best interests of the consumer,” said Ms. Cormier, repeating this mantra a number of times within the conversation with The Expositor. Part of that consideration is to “smooth out” the impact of rate increases on the individual consumer’s bill.

According to Ms. Cormier, OPG had accounts from 2013 that were ready to be dispersed by December 2013, but “they made the decision to not bring in the closure of 2014 accounts until now (January),” she added.

Once the accounts are reconciled and the public comment process is completed, the amount of credit (or debit) is applied to energy bills as a “rate rider,” a temporary addition (or, theoretically, a reduction) in rates on the pure electricity line of the hydro bill. Ms. Cormier noted that the rate rider is in place for a period of time until the variance in accounts balances out to zero.

The OPG disposal of accounts will impact the amount it charges for the output of its nuclear facilities and hydroelectric facilities.

Consumers are invited to have their say, in writing, by applying online by February 9. If consumers wish an oral hearing, individuals or businesses can request by writing to the OEB by February 9 to explain why you think that is necessary. The OEB notes that your letter and submission will be put on the public record and will be publically available on the OEB web site. Your phone number, email address and home address will be removed, however.

The process outlined by the OEB is to first review the application online at the OEB website and also to file a letter with your comments which will be considered during the hearing. This will make you an active intervener and you will receive notices of the proceedings. Finally, you can review the OEB decision and its reasoning posted on the website. This process can be accessed (or any related file) by selecting File number EB-2014-0370 from the list on the OEB website.