Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne did a 180 Wednesday, finally admitting that rising hydro bills across the province are an “urgent issue,” after downplaying the issue for months.
The change in tone from the Wynne government comes after extensive reporting by Global News on skyrocketing electricity rates, especially in rural areas, and the toll it has had on residents and businesses.
June 30, 2016
Global first reported on the dramatic increase in June, after the province began selling off their majority share of the transmission utility and rates had risen in the province 100 per cent over the past decade.
An investigation showed that ‘energy poverty’ was forcing rural residents to spend hundreds of dollars a month just to keep the lights on.
July 6, 2016
A follow-up story on the high hydro costs in rural Ontario focused on Bruce County.
Despite being home to one of the province’s largest sources of electrical power by way of the Bruce Power nuclear generating station, more than 200 people in the area were seeking assistance with their hydro bills.
One resident, who recently suffered a heart attack, told healthcare workers it would be better for his family if he passed away. In another example, a mom was told by a Hydro One official to have her children stop using computers or other ‘toy items’.
WATCH: Outrage grows over rising electricity rates in rural Ontario
July 15, 2016
After Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault told families across the province to cut back on their electricity, Global News spoke with a family in Sault Saint-Marie whose situation had reached a breaking point.
The day after speaking with Global News their hydro was cut off.
July 21, 2016
Data obtained by Global News showed some shocking figures the Global Adjustment fee – a charge billed to all hydro customers in the province, was forced on Ontario residents.
Put into place with Ontario’s 2009 Green Energy Act, the charge only appears separately on bills for manufactures and large businesses. For residential customers and small businesses, the fee was hidden and added to an average of 7.9 cents per kilowatt hour.
That means that for every $100 in usage that appears on your electricity bill, $77 is the Global Adjustment fee. The actual cost of electricity use is only $23.
August 4, 2016
BMO’s chief economist Doug Porter spoke to Global News about the rising cost of electricity. He believed the escalating charges would hurt the provinces long-term economy.
“It hurts small businesses, it hurts large business. And it reduces their willingness to invest here in the province if one of their core costs is higher than in other nearby regions.”
August 24, 2016
Numbers released by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) revealed Ontarians were falling behind on their energy bills and those who can least afford it were falling deeper into debt.
The data released showed 567,000 Ontario electricity customer accounts were in arrears at end of 2015, owing $172.5 million, significantly higher than the 472,620 customers who owed roughly $108 million in 2013.