Hydro protest held in Huntsville
Published Friday, April 4, 2014 6:41PM EDT
Higher bills and poor service prompted a protest in Huntsville on Friday against Hydro One.
About two dozen people took to the streets in Huntsville – upset with their soaring hydro bills.
“It’s double and there’s no end to it. We’re paying for delivery, debt repayment and the charges are more than what we use in hydro,” says Rosemarie Meyer.
“My daughter got a crazy bill, I got a crazy bill…some of the bills are $3,000,” says Roger Wilson.
Sylvia Gethons-Green is a retired nurse and says her hydro bill has more than doubled. She’s paying more than $4,000 a month.
“One of my hydro bills takes one of my pensions and it fluctuates a lot.”
Protests like the one in Huntsville were held across the province on Friday. In Ottawa, hundreds of people rallied outside the Energy Minister’s office. Thousands of hydro customers, especially those who live in remote or urban areas have complained about overpriced bills and poor customer service.
Hydro One blames the spike on the long, cold winter. In statement released to CTV News, Hydro One says “This year, Ontario experienced the coldest winter in 20 years, which had an effect on our customer’s bills - especially those with baseboard heating.”
The statement also goes on to say ”Hydro One has 1.3 million customers and uses 123,000 km of overhead line to serve them. Every other utility in Ontario serves more than 3 million customers and has only 40,000 km of overhead line combined. It requires much more infrastructure to deliver electricity to customers who are spread out across a large geography.”
Sherrie Boles organized the protest in Huntsville and wants the Ontario government to take immediate action.
“Smart meters don’t work in remote areas, the system is broke. Take us back to the old system that worked and didn’t cost us the millions of dollars.”
The province says it’s taken several steps to reduce rate increases – including coal plant closures and energy tax credits.
But Parry Sound – Muskoka MPP Norm Miller says some of the government’s energy programs are hurting hydro customers. He says the province has to move away from wind and solar energy.
“We just got to get back to basics and stop these crazy programs that are driving up the cost of electricity and over time that will be a benefit of people.”
Ontario’s Ombudsman Andre Marin is currently investigating Hydro One billing practices after his office was inundated with complaints. He is expected to compete his investigation within nine months but many people say they can’t afford their hydro bills much longer and want the government to take action now.