Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Northern Ontario Ratepayer Puts Wynne on the Hot Seat during Photo Op

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Northern Ontario Ratepayer Puts Wynne on the Hot Seat during Photo Op

Article excerpt

Hydro ratepayer puts Wynne on the hot seat

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TORONTO - Premier Kathleen Wynne was put on the hot seat Friday over her new hydro plan, not by reporters or opposition politicians, but by a ratepayer from Sturgeon Falls, Ont.

Wynne was making calls to people across the province who had written to her to complain about soaring electricity bills, a day after she announced an average 17-per-cent cut is coming this summer.

She made three of the calls with journalists in the room for a photo opportunity and while two of the people she called mostly thanked her for the announcement, a woman named Anita had some things to say.

Anita, who agreed to have reporters listen in on her call if her last name wasn't used, wanted to know why the 17-per-cent reduction is being achieved by spreading some costs over a longer period of time, akin to amortizing a mortgage over 30 years instead of 20, a move that will ultimately cost ratepayers billions of dollars in extra interest.

"That's like a mortgage on a house," she said. "With that extension I'll be paying my house five times."

Wynne said current ratepayers were footing the whole bill for investments that needed to be made to upgrade the electricity system, and since people in 15 or 20 years will still be making use of those assets, it's more fair to share the costs.

"It does mean it takes a bit longer to pay it off, it does mean it costs a bit more, but that's how mortgages work and there will be a benefit to those kids tomorrow, but you're ending up paying for too much of it today," Wynne said.

"OK," Anita said. But she wasn't done.

"What about those peak periods?" she said, saying time-of-use pricing wasn't helping people to lower their bills. "That's really a farce...People have done all they can, like washing at night and cleaning, whatever, turning down thermostats."

While time-of-use wasn't addressed in Thursday's announcement, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault has said he is looking at changes to it as part of the province's new Long-Term Energy Plan, that he'll introduce this spring. …

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