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Hydro Ottawa and I

This may seem like a strange post, but if you know me, Hydro Ottawa and I have not had the most trusting and agreeable relationship over the years that I have lived in Ontario.

Back in good ol' 2002 when my now wife and I packed up from Newfoundland and headed West to Ontario for work, we moved into a small one bedroom apartment. We got our utilities and perks installed (hydro, phone, cable, ect...). Then we moved into a house in 2006. Here are some of the issues/problems I have with Hydro Ottawa:

 

Problem

After receiving the first few hydro bills I was outraged about a single line item on the bill; "Debt Retirement Charge". So I called up Hydro Ottawa to get an explanation of this charge, since I did not owe any money past due, why was I being charged for this?

After listing to the representative on the phone explain to me that the Debt Retirement Charge is a charge (tax) on all residents of Ontario hydro bills to repay the debt that was incurred while hydro was managed (I use that term lightly) by the Ontario government. So why must I pay this debt? I did not live here when it was incurred. Nor was I the one who made the poor decisions to to put the organization into debt in the first place.

So back in 1998 the Ontario government decided to break from the power business and have semi-private organizations supply the power to residences and business of Ontario.

At the time, some of the $38.1 billion debt was offset by assets assigned to Ontario Hydro’s successor companies, Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation (OPG).

A portion of the debt was also covered through income the province receives from Hydro One and OPG profits, as well as what amounts to taxes on local hydro utilities.

But that still left $7.8 billion uncovered, so the province imposed a debt retirement charge of 0.7 cents a kilowatt hour on hydro bills until it is “defeased”, which means paid off."



 

This is where some basic math comes into play with my abacus.

1998 - 2013
Ontario Hydro Debt:  $7,800,000,000.00
Number of Households in Ontario:  4,887,510
Bi-monthly billing = ~ 90 billing cycles
Debt Retirement Charge per house, per bill: $17.00
Total for 15 years per household: $1550.00
Total for all households paid: $7,575,640,500.00

Remaining:  $224,359,500.00*

*No business were taken account for in these numbers, so the Ontario government should now be in the GREEN and we should no longer be paying this. But alas the numbers that the politicians throw out, is that the charge "should" be removed by 2015 - 2018.




Issue / Questionable Hydro Ottawa Knowledge

This only started once we moved into our house in 2006 and I really should not blame it on Hydro Ottawa, but they could have given me some advise or guidance since they are trying to get people to be "greener". Now I understand that a house consumes more power, due to its size. But when we moved we began to get power bills that ranged from $200 bi-monthly to $600 bi-monthly. That's a hefty increase from our normal $100 - $200 bi-monthly bill. I had contacted Hydro Ottawa on many occasions to try and help with my situation since all of my neighbors in similar houses were reporting bills around $150. The best they would say is that we were running too much stuff too long.

In our house we had a gas furnace and gas stove and the AC, dishwasher, dryer and other small items ran on hydro. So we began limiting the use of these items or only using them during the off peak hours when hydro is cheaper. This still did nothing (very little) for the power bills. I was convinced the wires were mixed and there was another house on our line so I hired a  electrician who in-turn charged me and confirmed I was wrong.

So at this point I was defeated and I felt like I should bend over and take it like a Hydro Ottawa customer and continue to pay up. This was up until the spring when my father visited and was wondering what fan was going at night because he could not sleep. After some quick investigation, it was the Venmar system in the house that was running 24*7. Now my first thought was a small fan in a Venmar system could not possibly be causing this increase, but I decided to turn it off and watch the daily power readings. To my surprise the daily hydro usage dropped by about 15 - 20 kWH a day. That's and average of 1050kWH over 60 days. But we needed some longer time stats before we make a conclusion.

Now I am ready to conclude that yes the Venmar system running was what was causing such high power bills over 7 years and below are a few numbers to validate my conclusion:


Date Period: 2012-06-20 - 2012-08-22
Period Usage: 3147.983333kWH
Per Day Usage: 49.97kWH

Date Period: 2013-06-18 - 2013-08-20
Period Usage: 1919.589789kWH
Per Day Usage: 30.47kWH

A whopping difference of 1228.393544kWH a month. A 39% savings.

It was further confirmation last week when all of my neighbors reported much higher hydro bills than we had for the same billing period. Now to get that number even lower. 

Hydro Ottawa's advise to customers is that by changing the small things in your house such as the time you turn the dishwasher on to turning off lights. In my opinion these things do not make a big difference to your overall bill. What I suggest is for you to look at the more non-obvious things in your house, as these things could be running 24*7 and eating up much more hydro than many small things running every few days during peak time.

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