Sudbury

Facebook group wants to know how much you pay for Ontario hydro delivery

A Facebook group is collecting people's hydro bills hoping to lobby the Ontario government to create one blanket delivery charge for everyone.

Take Back Your Power Ontario asking residents to send in copies of their hydro bills

An example of a rural hydro bill Catherine Leal said has been submitted to her group. The $1,265 bill includes a $423 delivery charge. (Submitted by Catherine Leal)

A Facebook group is collecting people's hydro bills hoping to lobby the Ontario government to create one blanket delivery charge for everyone.

On average, the delivery charge makes up nearly 30 per cent of a typical residential hydro bill. How much residents pay on their delivery charges can vary widely from place to place as different local hydro utilities charge different rates.

Premier Kathleen Wynne has indicated that delivery charges are on her government's radar, and Catherine Leal, of Take Back Your Power Ontario, told CBC's Up North host Jason Turnbull that it's about time.

"When people talk about they are choosing between eating and paying the hydro bill, that is true," she said. "It is not an exaggeration."
Catherine Leal is the administration coordinator of the group Take Back Your Power Ontario. (Submitted by Catherine Leal)

"When people are paying two, three hundred, four hundred dollars a month just for the delivery charge, and add on top of that the electricity and everything else, the costs are just too much," she said.

According to the Ontario Energy Board's bill calculator, local utilities in Sudbury and Thunder Bay charge among the lowest delivery fees, while Hydro One customers pay a lot more.

Homes in rural areas, where natural gas is less prevalent, are also hit by having electric heating, Leal added.

She said she's heard stories of people not being able to buy medication or keep up with rent due to their hydro bills; in extreme cases, she said, families have packed up and moved out-of-province.

'Reaching out to people'

Take Back Your Power Ontario is calling on people, especially those in rural or semi-rural areas, to send the group a copy of a hydro bill that shows the high costs, Leal said.

"We're gathering all of these hydro bills and what we're going to do is make a report that actually gives you a cross section of what people are paying for [in delivery fees] across Ontario."

Leal said once the report is done, it will be posted to the group's Facebook page and website, and sent to the premier and every MPP along with individual notes "that are saying 'this is how the delivery charges and the high electricity charges are affecting me.'"

When you're talking $8 or $10 a month it really is a drop in the bucket- Catherine Leal

She said she hopes that will lead the government to consider a universal delivery charge that would be applied to everyone, regardless of where they live.

Leal acknowledged the province is taking some steps, like bringing in the rebate for the provincial portion of the HST on electricity, but she said more needs to be done.

"When you're talking $8 or $10 a month it really is a drop in the bucket when people are receiving $1,000-a-month hydro bills," she said.

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