Your hydro bill is going up. Ouch!

If you’ve received a recent bill from Hydro One, you might be confused by some proposed changes to hydro rates. And if you haven’t yet received a bill, you’re likely in for an unpleasant surprise.

Thanks to a delayed Ontario Energy Board (OEB) approval for Hydro One to raise rates, your next bill may reflect both the 2019 increase and retroactive charges to cover the 2018 increase.

“The information we’ve been given is that [Hydro One] has been ordered to catch up right away,” says Terry Rees, the executive director of the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations (FOCA). “So it’s going to be a bit painful right off the bat.” What’s not yet clear is whether the increase will appear on a single bill or be phased in over multiple bills.

What’s more, says Rees, another change is on the way: the OEB is proposing the elimination of the seasonal rate class, to which most cottagers belong. Instead, he says, cottagers will find themselves either in the R1 (medium-density) or R2 (low-density) class, depending on the location of their cottage. An R2 customer is charged a higher rate because it costs more to deliver power to them, says Rees, noting that slightly more than half of cottagers will see their bills at least double.

Asked about this second impending change, a spokesperson for Hydro One said, “Hydro One has advocated on behalf of its customers on how the elimination of [the seasonal] rate class would have a negative effect on more than half of our seasonal customers.”

The change in rate classes is still being debated. FOCA has been monitoring this process closely, and Rees wants answers specifically to what cottagers can expect their total bill to include, when the government plan takes effect, and when cottagers will find out whether they’re being converted to R1 or R2. “It’s certainly our intent to make sure that we stay on top of these proposed plans,” says Rees, including “who’s affected, by how much, and what, if any, opportunity we have to weigh in to see if we can make this a more fair and reasonable transition.”

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