Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Hydro Bills to Fall Then Ultimately Leave Consumers Paying More

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Hydro Bills to Fall Then Ultimately Leave Consumers Paying More

Article excerpt

Ontario hydro bills to fall then rise


TORONTO - Ontarians will see lowered hydro bills for the next 10 years, but will then pay higher costs for the following 20 years, under new legislation tabled Thursday.

Ten weeks after announcing its plan to lower hydro bills, the Liberal government introduced legislation to lower time-of-use rates, take the cost of low-income and rural support programs off bills, and introduce new social programs.

It will lower time-of-use rates by removing from bills a portion of the global adjustment, a charge consumers pay for above-market rates to power producers. For the next 10 years, a new entity overseen by Ontario Power Generation will take on debt to pay that difference.

Then, the cost of paying back that debt with interest -- which the government says will be up to $28 billion -- will go back onto ratepayers' bills for the next 20 years as a "Clean Energy Adjustment."

An average 17-per-cent cut to bills will take effect 15 days after the hydro legislation receives royal assent, but there are just eight sitting days left before the Ontario legislature breaks for the summer. Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault insisted that leaves the opposition "plenty" of time for review and debate.

Premier Kathleen Wynne promised to cut hydro bills after widespread anger over rising costs helped send her approval ratings to record lows.

Electricity bills in the province have roughly doubled in the last decade, due in part to green energy initiatives, and Thibeault said the goal of this plan is to better spread out those costs.

"Like the mortgage on your house, this regime will cost more as we refinance over a longer period of time, but this is a more equitable and fair approach when we consider the lifespan of the clean energy investments, and generating stations across our province," he said.

NDP critic Peter Tabuns called it a "get-through-the-election" next June plan. …

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