Photos from the 2011 Federal Election

Monday, June 21, 2010

Going Green and paying for it

In recent weeks many of the residents of Markham and Unionville that subscribe to the equal payment plan (EPP) to pay their electric bill have received notice of increases to monthly bills from the electricity provider PowerStream.  Increases for most households will be 25 to 100% starting June 2010. Naturally the notice did not give reasons but a subsequent letter explained the increases after PowerStream was inundated with complaints. A story in the Markham Economist at the end of May (Energy Bills Skyrocket) explained some of the reasons. One of the reasons was a scheduled 12% hike in the regulated electricity costs set by the Ontario Energy Board. That is just the beginning, those rates will continue to go up as Ontario closes cheap coal fired electric power plants and replaces them with new "green" solar and wind power electric plants. This recent article in MACLEAN'S outlines Ontario's rush to be green.
Below is a letter to the editor of the Markham Economist from June 19, 2010, (click to enlarge) stating my views on the rush to be green and beside it the letter as sent in easier to read format.

Re: Perfect storm hikes bills, May 29

To the Editor,

It has been fascinating to read the differences in equal billing charges levied by our electric utility PowerStream in Markham to some residents.
When I received notice from PowerStream that my monthly equal billings payments were going up 23% I was incensed, and called then emailed the utility. But my rates are going from $111 to $136; a far cry from the EBP rates some of your readers (even though I’m in a 4 bedroom two story house). The difference in rates is instructive; residents do have some control over their EBP rates, simply cut back on usage.  The utility charges according to usage, and that will be even more important when Smart Meter time-of-use rates are implemented soon.
PowerStream is not the villain in this story; it simply distributes electricity for its three municipal shareholders Vaughan, Markham and Barrie. The real villain is the McGuinty government and its rush to be green at all costs – mostly yours.
Over 100 years ago competitive cheap hydroelectric power became widely available here and Ontario became the industrial dynamo of Canada. We still benefit from that very good start but today rather than encourage a competitive market in the production of cheap electricity the McGuinty Liberals are doing the opposite. They have made long-term deals with various companies to purchase power at rates far in excess of the 4.5-cent per kilowatt-hour market rate (a 100 watt light bulb could run for 10 hours for 4.5 cents). In fact Ontario will be forced to buy electricity at between 13.5 and 44.3-cents per kilowatt-hour for the next twenty years from various solar and wind power companies. Remember, each of these are intermittent power sources (no sun/wind no power), so “back-up” fossil fuel sources will be standing by (at additional cost because McGuinty is closing the cheap coal burning plants). Is it possible to find a more expensive way to produce electricity than McGuinty has? Imagine what kind of competitive position this creates for Ontario businesses for the next 100 years.
Oh, I forgot, the new HST will add an additional 8% to your electric bill in two weeks. So it is no wonder PowerStream is increasing our rates, that is just the beginning. Don’t waste your time calling PowerStream, call or write Michael Chan your Liberal MPP and let him know your thoughts.

Allen Small

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