Ottawa

Residents angry after latest electricity rate hike

Ottawa residents say they are growing weary of rising electricity rates, after the Ontario Energy Board approved a price hike earlier this week.

Ottawa residents say they are growing weary of rising electricity rates, after the Ontario Energy Board approved a price hike earlier this week.

On Tuesday, the board gave utilities across the province permission to raise their rates — ironically, to recover $18 million they paid in fines and legal costs after charging consumers excessive interest on late payments.

Hydro Ottawa has been given permission to raise its rates by 20 cents a month, for one year.

The energy board is also expected to rule shortly on a request from Ontario Power Generation for a 6.2 per cent increase in its electricity rates effective March 1.

Ontario Power Generation estimates the increase would add about $1.86 to a typical homeowner's monthly hydro bill. The board said in its decision that to deny the utilities the ability to recover their costs would put the costs on the shareholders - in Ottawa's case, the City of Ottawa.

"In the board's view, no fair-minded person, cognisant of the facts of this case could come to a different conclusion," said in its decision.

Ottawa-area Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod says her constituents call every day with complaints.

"I think we're going to continue to hear it because it's becoming so unaffordable for Ontario families and seniors, especially because this is non-discretionary spending, you have to heat your house," said MacLeod.

"You know people just can't keep up, they need a break, enough is enough," she said.

Low-incomes residents hard-hit

The rate hikes for electricity have been particularly hard for low-income Ottawa residents.

Lise Powell, who has lived in the Quarry Housing Co-op in Ottawa's south end for more than 20 years, says the constant rate increases are making life unbearable.

"It's just unreal what's happening and I hope that they figure something out because I mean a lot of people once they pay their hydro and stuff they can't even afford the rent or groceries," said Powell.

Rob Wilson, who lives in the co-op, said his home is heated with electric baseboard heaters. Wilson said as costs rise, he and his two sons turn down the heat.

"Less baseboard, more blankets, it's basically what we've been doing all winter right now," said Wilson.

With files from the CBC's Chad Pawson, The Canadian Press