QUEEN’S PARK—In question period on Tuesday, Ontario NDP Energy critic Peter Tabuns called on the Wynne Liberals to stand up for Ontario families and direct the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to stop the privatized Hydro One’s plan to require pre-payment for power.
Hidden in Hydro One’s distribution rate application for 2018-2022 are plans to replace recently installed smart meters with pre-payment meters, requiring customers to pay for electricity before they use it and creating a loophole to new rules banning winter disconnections.
“Instead of reducing its rates, as the government promised would happen, the privatized Hydro One is seeking a 20 per cent increase,” said Tabuns. “But there’s more. On page 2,038 of the application, we learn that Hydro One wants to install pre-payment meters, which require the customer to pay first before they get any electricity.
“Everywhere pre-payment meters have been used, they have hurt struggling families.”
Recently, the OEB issued a directive banning licensed electricity distributors from disconnecting homes for non-payment during winter months, but pre-payment meters would allow Hydro One to bypass this rule. Tabuns said the Liberal government is allowing the privatized Hydro One to use harmful Thatcher-era tactics to bypass the OEB directive and stop providing power to families that are unable to pay.
“After Margaret Thatcher privatized the UK’s water system, utilities began installing these pre-payment meters,” said Tabuns. “They hurt struggling families and created a public health crisis. The premier has hurt families in Ontario by privatizing Hydro One. Hydro One is installing pre-payment hydro meters so it can bypass Ontario’s rules for disconnections. Hydro One won’t have to disconnect anyone. The power will get cut off automatically if the customer doesn’t feed the meter.”
“Will the government direct the Ontario Energy Board to prohibit Hydro One’s use of pre-payment meters?” asked Tabuns.