Hydro One’s plan to install pre-payment hydro meters across the province is still a touchy subject.
The NDP and the Northern Ontario Party are both standing up against Hydro One’s recent application to the Ontario Energy Board. In the application, the utility says that they plan on installing pre-payment meters across the province, which would bypass a recent ban on winter disconnections, as you would need to pay at the beginning of the month.
“This will unfairly target low income families and pensioners in Northern Ontario, where power costs are traditionally higher,” says NOP leader Trevor Holliday. “This will force more people into poverty and force them to make the choice between heat or eating once again. This is the same old story of the Liberals giving with one hand and taking away with the other. Wynne is using smoke and mirrors in regard to hyping the minimum wage increase while trying to hide another hike to the Hydro One rate payers. This is while Hydro One is selling surplus power in the US below market cost, this doesn’t make any sense!” he said.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is hoping to introduce a new law to ban pre-pay hydro meters, protecting people from having the electricity cut off if they don’t feed the meter. Horwath is concerned that the new meters would skirt the ban on winter-time disconnections, since they cut off electricity automatically if the meter isn’t fed by buying credits at a corner shop or online.
“This is what privatization looks like,” said Horwath. “Seniors living on small pensions resorting to candles and blankets when they can’t afford more credits. Parents telling their kids they can’t afford to keep the lights on. It has to be stopped,” she said.
In 2014, Ontario’s Auditor General revealed that Hydro One accounted for nearly 50 per cent of the $1.4 billion smart meter implementation costs incurred by all distribution companies in Ontario, despite installing only 25 per cent of the meters.
The United Kingdom banned pre-pay water meters 20 years ago, over similar concerns shared by the NOP and NDP.
On November 30, Patrick Brown’s Conservatives voted with the Wynne government to block an NDP motion to start bringing Hydro One back into public ownership.
For more information:
Pre-payment meters a ‘risk’, NDP