Energy minister deflects attention from...
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Feb 17, 2017  |  Vote 0    0

Energy minister deflects attention from government's part in hydro woes

Parry Sound North Star

We don’t need to tell anyone our hydro system is broken. We have readers sending us copies of their bills that feature a litany of bizarre charges.

One reader’s quarterly hydro bill for a boathouse listed a charge of 10 cents for the actual hydro and $117 for the delivery and related fees. The next month the charge for hydro usage was zero, but the resident still had to cough up the related $117 for fees.

It’s nonsensical.

And clearly this is the battleground where the next provincial election will be fought. This past week the provincial PC leader Patrick Brown campaigned across the north and his outrage at the cost of hydro played front and centre.

Our own MPP, Norm Millar, has decried the situation for years. Pretty much every time we talk to him he makes sure to mention that his constituents call him daily with their concerns. And Tony Clement stood up in the House this week to lend his ire to what is currenty a provincial issue - maybe the Feds will step up to the plate.

In response, the Ontario minister of energy, Glenn Thibeault, sent letters to energy critics to ask for their support to expedite the passage of Bill 27, the Burden Reduction Act. Bill 27 would allow the Ontario Energy Board to prohibit providers from disconnecting folks. Until that bill is passed, local distribution companies will continue to have the power to disconnect customers under Section 31 of the Energy Act, 1998, according to the ministry.

Thibeault’s letter asks Ontario hydro distributors “to immediately and voluntarily implement a policy that ends electricity disconnections during winter months. At no point, under any circumstances, should a customer be put at risk over an electricity bill.”

Hydro One reconnected 1,400 customers this winter after they were disconnected for nonpayment, so, happily it seems the company is already on board. A call to Lakeland Power informed us that company has many folks who can't make ends meet, but they haven't cut anyone off yet this year. We applaud them both.

It looks to us as though Thibeault may be using this bill and his letter as a diversionary tactic to focus attention on the cold-hearted hydro companies and away from his provincial government, which has failed so miserably to address residents’ concerns.

We suggest the minister work harder to take further responsibility for his government’s policies. Yes, reduce the burden. But fix the system.

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