Power rates increase for Hydro Ottawa, Hydro One customers

Electricity prices went up again Sunday for Hydro Ottawa and Hydro One customers in Ottawa.

On-peak price of electricity has jumped 77 per cent for Hydro One users since 2010

Electricity rates went up again Sunday for Hydro One and Ottawa Hydro customers. (CBC)

Electricity prices went up again Sunday across Ontario, affecting local customers of both Hydro Ottawa and Hydro One.

The Ontario Energy Board announced the increase, which will impact households and small businesses, in mid-October.

As of Sunday:

  • The price for off-peak hours goes up 0.3 cents to 8.3 cents/kWh.
  • The price for mid-peak hours goes up 0.6 cents to 12.8 cents/kWh.
  • The price for on-peak hours goes up 1.4 cents to 17.5 cents/kWh.

Sunday's rate hike means the on-peak price of electricity has jumped 77 per cent for Hydro One customers since Smart Meters became common five years ago. In November 2010, the price was 9.9 cents/kWh.

'You watch every penny'

Only a fraction of Ottawans, mostly those living in the city's rural areas, still get their power from Hydro One. They have long complained that they pay up to 30 per cent more for electricity than Hydro Ottawa customers — who sometimes live right across the street.

Hydro Ottawa also announced new rates on Sunday, with the total monthly bill for a "typical residential customer" consuming 800 kWh per month increasing by approximately $4.42.

Michael Shabatowski, 82, said he'd seen his hydro bill triple in the 20 years he's lived at his Orleans home.

"I mean, when you're on pension and on disability, you watch every penny," said Shabatowski. "It's not only the hydro — your food, everything has gone crazy."

On Saturday, a small group of people also huddled in the cold outside Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli's Carling Avenue office to protest changes to the province's energy regime.

"A lot of people can't afford [the price increase]," said Garry Jodoin, one of the protesters. "We all know this, and that's why I'm out here to complain about it. Because I'm a senior myself."

Time is running out: Blais

While the City of Ottawa is working with the province to transfer the remaining 45,000 Hydro One customers over to Ottawa Hydro, Hydro One's looming sell-off means time is running out, said Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais.

"I find it hard to believe that a bank or a foreign investment firm is going to want to carve up pieces of [Hydro One] after they've just spent tens or hundreds of millions of dollars purchasing shares in the market," said Blais, whose ward includes a wide swath of rural Ottawa.

"Perhaps I'm wrong, but hopefully we can come to some kind of resolution," he said.

In 2010, the average monthly Hydro One bill was about $100 per month. The typical household will shell out roughly $31 more per month this year.

In addition to the rate hike, the hours for mid-peak and on-peak prices also change to winter "time-of-use" hours. From Nov. 1 to April 30, weekdays between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. are considered mid-peak hours, and weekdays between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. are on-peak hours.

The OEB says several factors are driving the price hike, including increased costs related to Ontario Power Generation's nuclear and hydro-electric power plants, as well as costs from renewable sources, such as wind and solar.

Energy consultant Tom Adams says rate-payers are confused and angry after watching their hydro bills continue to go up. (CBC)

Rate-payers 'angry,' confused

Energy consultant Tom Adams said he hears two things from consumers about the ongoing upward trend in hydro rates.

"Just confusion — What the heck is going on?" Adams told CBC Queen's Park reporter Mike Crawley of the reaction.

"And anger, just people increasingly angry."

Another factor that could affect household hydro bills is the upcoming public sale of shares of Hydro One. The Liberal government says partial privatization won't impact consumers' costs, but the opposition thinks otherwise.

"Hydro One will be on its own and the pressure it feels will be from stockholders, people who want increased revenue every year," NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns told CBC News. "That's going to have an impact."

Hydro One shares go on sale on Thursday. The province is initially putting 81.1 million shares, or about 15 per cent of the company, up for sale, but could ultimately reduce its stake to about 40 per cent over the next several years.


  • A previous version of this story reported only the changes to Hydro One customers, when in fact Hydro Ottawa customers are also seeing a rate increase as of Nov. 1.
    Nov 01, 2015 11:54 AM ET

With files from CBC Toronto