When local householders receive their next hydro bill, it will look a little different.
It has been changed to reflect an increase in rates, but the net effect is not as bad as it may seem at first glance.
Although the rate hike is about 30 per cent, the average increase for residential use and small businesses in Ontario will be about two per cent, says Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro president Tim Curtis.
The provincial rebate has also increased, to offset the raise in rates.
Customers are being billed at the new rate — it came into effect Nov. 1 — and although the message may have been confusing, it should be clear in the next bill, says Curtis.
The lower rate was being subsidized by the Province, he explains, and still is, only it’s being presented as a rebate, also coming from provincial revenue, as the Ford government’s attempt at making customers more aware of the true cost of hydro.
Rates are expected to continue to rise until they reflect the actual cost, Curtis says.
Hamish Kerr is one resident who received an email from NOTL Hydro, “and really, it was so unclear we were in shock. We saw the kilowatt/hour rate was going up 30 per cent, and thought our bill would be increasing 30 per cent. What a Christmas present!”
After calling NOTL Hydro and having the rebate explained, Kerr says, “it wasn’t made clear enough. And what I still don’t understand is why they are doing this, making it look like ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ Really, it’s all about debt retirement, and we can expect to keep paying it. Two per cent isn’t bad, everybody can live with that. But there is no such thing as a free lunch — we’ll have to pay it somewhere down the line.”