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Mismanagement means hydro bills continue to climb

Once a small percentage of your electricity bill, the global adjustment fees – reflecting the difference between market rates and the overly generous guarantees the Liberal government gave electricity suppliers – have skyrocketed.

In her latest indictment of the government’s across-the-board mismanagement, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk notes that fee accounts for some 70 per cent of your bill.

Eager to cover up its incompetence on the electricity file, the Wynne government has refused to follow up on Lysyk’s recommendation the global adjustment costs be made clearer on consumers’ electricity bills. That move, along with the auditor general’s call for the cost of the Liberal cap-and-trade scheme, was rejected by the Ontario Energy Board, with the province refusing to make such reporting mandatory.

In both cases, Wynne has no interest in transparency, as residents hit with ever-growing energy bills would know full well who’s to blame.

Wynne is no stranger to criticism from the auditor general, who has found her government to be sweepingly incompetent and corrupt. Some of Lysyk’s strongest language had been directed at the government’s handling of all things electricity. Hydro One’s transmission and distribution systems have become less reliable, yet their costs are increasing, for instance.

Ontarians are very familiar with the botched job Wynne has made of the electricity file. Quantified, Lysyk notes we paid a collective $50 billion more than market rates in the last decade. While prices reflected increased costs for dealing with an aging system, much of the overpayment can be traced to poor policies. The Liberals routinely ignored expert advice – and even common sense – in pursuit of ill-advised policies and political patronage and vote-buying, decisions that went well past the billion dollars flushed away on the gas plant fiasco.

Despite all the extra money we’ve been dumping into it, the electrical system continues to worsen, at a high risk of failure.

Then there’s the Green Energy Act, which began as a minor cost item in the name of promoting cleaner, renewable technologies to replace coal and other fossil fuels. With exorbitant rate guarantees to providers, projects such as solar- and wind-powered generators came online in a sudden rush, even as demand dropped. Ontario was selling surplus electricity at discount rates, and even paying others to take it, passing the massive losses on to consumers who faced escalating bills even as they cut back and attempted to make use of time-of-day pricing.

The installation of smart meters in conjunction with time-of-use pricing was supposed to help us lower our electricity bills. That’s not been the case. In most instance, the savings have been minor if they’ve come at all.

The reason? The actual electricity to use is just part of the cost, as you can plainly see on a bill that itemizes such items as transmission and debt-retirement costs. And then there’s the global adjustment fee.

Smart meters or not, electricity is going to eat up a larger portion of our incomes. Aging infrastructure needs to be replaced, but that will be a minor cost as the government has failed to manage the supply side while selling off the transmission side – Hydro One – for some short-term cash to address its financial mismanagement. Be afraid for your wallet.

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