Glenn Thibeault, Minister of Energy met with local community leaders to talk about the on-going Hydro “crisis” in the province.
The Liberal government recently announced legislation that, if passed, would rebate the provincial portion of the HST from the electricity bills of residential, small business and farms as of January 1, 2017.
“I think if you look at the past 100 days I’ve been Minister, the thing I have been tasked with is making sure we can find ways to take our system to the next level and make it as affordable as we can be for businesses and families right across Ontario.” Thibeault said while talking to media Friday morning.
Over the last number of years, Ontario’s economy has recovered from the impact of the global recession. While the province and independent economic analysts project consistent economic growth for Ontario, many families are not yet feeling the impact of the recovery in their everyday lives. Therefore, Ontario intends to take action to help with the costs related to electricity.
When asked if the hydro situation was a crisis in the province, Thibeault admitted that families are hurting right now.”It may be a crisis for some families but the real crisis was 13 years ago when our entire system was blacked out and we had to spend billions and billions of dollars to get that system back up and running and the cost to our economy and everything else, that was a crisis”
Thibeault talked about his government’s four part plan to help ease the cost of energy for families and businesses that are trying to cope with escalating hyrdro bills.
Reducing Ontario residential electricity bills by 8 per cent on the amount before tax, an average savings of about $130 annually or $11 each month;
Providing eligible rural ratepayers with additional relief, decreasing total electricity bills by an average of $540 a year or $45 each month; and
Empowering businesses to reduce their bill by up to 34 per cent through the expansion of the Industrial Conservation Initiative.
Across Ontario, about five million residential consumers, farms and small businesses, along with more than one thousand industrial customers will be positively impacted by these changes the Minister claims.
“The actions we’re announcing today would benefit all ratepayers in a meaningful way. Customers across Ontario would receive significant rate relief through these initiatives. Expanding incentives across Ontario would create more opportunity for businesses to be competitive and manage their electricity costs. The proposed rebate would add an extra relief for families, farms and small businesses.” said Thibeault.
Since 2003, Ontario has invested more than $35 billion in over 16,000 megawatts (MW) of new and refurbished clean generation, including nuclear, natural gas and renewables – this represents about 40 per cent of our current supply and is the main reason why hyrdo bills will continue to rise in the future.
When it comes to delivery charges, which seems to be the biggest complaint from consumers the Minister didn’t have much to say. “The delivery charges is what it costs to build and get that power to that home” When asked if that costs was already being paid by the Ontario taxpayer Thibeault said, the taxpayer doesn’t pay it, it comes from the ratepayer, we’re not taking taxes to do that, it’s done with the ratepayer”
Thibeault stresses there are programs available to businesses and families, especially those who live in rural areas. “we have 135 thousand families who are currently on the Ontario Electricity Support Program but many many more families can apply and qualify for this so I want them to know to contact their utilities to find out what programs they qualify for”