UPDATE: Ontario has a plan to cut hydro bills by another 17%
Reported plan would finance electricity generation costs over longer periods to lower hydro bills.
TORONTO — Ontario’s Opposition says a leaked Liberal government plan to cut electricity rates by an additional 17% this year is just a “shell game.”
The Toronto Star reports that Premier Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet is expected to approve a plan to slash soaring hydro bills largely by financing the costs of electricity generation contracts over longer periods.
The reduction would include the 8% rebate on the provincial portion of the harmonized sales tax that kicked in this year.
Wynne and Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault are expected to tell electricity ratepayers today (March 2) how the Liberal government plans to reduce their bills.
The Toronto Star reported March 1 that the plan is to slash soaring hydro bills by 17% largely by paying the costs of electricity generation contracts over longer periods.
The move would be akin to refinancing a mortgage and is on top of an 8% rebate that took effect Jan. 1.
Thibeault wouldn’t say whether relief would come all at once or in phases.
Thibeault says it could take some time to take effect, if regulatory changes or legislation are needed, but adds it could perhaps be made retroactive.
Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown says the reported plan would just shift costs from people’s hydro bills to tax bills.
NDP deputy leader Jagmeet Singh said the reported plan wouldn’t address the root causes of problems within the electricity system, such as the high-paying, long-term contracts.
And Energy consultant Tom Adams said in a blog post that the plan would create a “big new electricity debt” in order to make rates “appear” to decrease.
The Liberal government faces no bigger political issue at the moment than hydro bills, which have about doubled in the last decade, and Wynne has promised that further relief will be announced before the spring budget. The Star reports that the plan is being presented to cabinet March 1.
Wynne has previously signalled that more savings will be coming for rural and northern ratepayers, who face significantly higher costs than urban customers, and Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault has suggested that changes are on the way for time-of-use pricing.
The NDP presented its plan to lower hydro bills on Feb. 28, including ending mandatory time-of-use pricing, reducing the delivery charge for rural customers and renegotiating power contracts.