Hydro One billing probe welcomed by Ottawa homeowner
Laura Boisvert says utility charges have risen while usage has not
An Ottawa homeowner who says Hydro One has been inexplicably overcharging for the electricity her family uses says she is pleased Ontario's Ombudsman is investigating how the provincial Crown Corporation bills its customers.
Ombudsman Andre Marin said Tuesday his office will be launching an investigation into the billing and customer service practices of Hydro One, following a growing number of complaints from its customers. The power utility has 1.4 million customers in the province, including a thousand on the outskirts of Ottawa.
“The stories we’re hearing will be familiar to many of you in the media — stories of huge unexplained, catch-up bills, multiple bills or estimated bills with no rhyme or reason,” said Marin.
That resonates with Laura Boisvert. She moved with her family to a bungalow in Metcalfe a year and a half ago. The house is heated by gas, but the family gets their electricity through Hydro One.
She said after just a few months the electricity bill inexplicably doubled.
Bills based on estimates, even though meter in place
"It went to 380 (dollars) then 450 and 500 and then 580 and then finally my husband said this is ridiculous," said Boisvert.
Hydro One told Boisvert the bill was accurate because the reading came from their smart meter, but Boisvert said that didn't square with the bills she received.
"Sometimes it's an estimate and sometimes it's an actual reading, but we said 'we have a smart meter, we're not suppose to have estimates,'" said Boisvert.
She said customer service representatives kept giving them the run-around.
Marin said his office has been stonewalled by Hydro One for years trying to get explanations about billing.
Tiziana Baccega Rosa, spokeswoman for Hydro One, told CBC News Tuesday the company respects the decision of the ombudsman’s office, and will work “openly and constructively” with its staff during the investigation.
She said the kind of billing problems the ombudsman was talking about are specific to five per cent of Hydro One’s customers.
About 3.2 per cent of customers have been getting multiple, estimated bills and another two per cent of customers have gone 90 days or more without receiving bills — in both cases, Baccega Rosa said, Hydro One is working through the problems.