Thunder Bay

Customers fear they'll pay more with new hydro rates

Thunder Bay Hydro officials say time-of-use pricing will encourage customers to conserve energy, and lower the demand on the power system. The utility has begun phasing in the new price structure, based on smart-meter technology.

Electricity provider says education key in making time-of-use pricing work for customers

Smart meters and time-of-use (TOU) rates are new energy management tools that will help smooth “peak demand, according to the Ontario Energy Board. Both are being introduced across the province in a staggered fashion. Time-of-use billing in Thunder Bay started Oct. 13.

Thunder Bay resident Daneen Brigham said she expects her hydro bill to jump now that Thunder Bay Hydro is implementing time-of-use billing. She said there's no way she can finish all her household chores in the off-peak billing times.

"I find that they're not conducive to the average working person," the Thunder Bay resident said.

However, Thunder Bay Hydro officials say time-of-use pricing will encourage customers to conserve energy, and lower the demand on the power system. The utility has begun phasing in the new price structure, which uses smart-meter technology.

"We're on a provincial grid, and this entire system should make a significant change to the actual demand that we find during peak times," said Eileen Dias,  communications officer with Thunder Bay Hydro.

Dias noted that if consumers shift their power usage, they could  save up to 20 per cent of electricity costs on their next bill.

The utility is sending information to customers to educate them about time-of-use billing and to help them prepare for the change.

'I haven't read it yet'

Thunder Bay resident Mark Chui admits he doesn't know a lot about the new rate structure.

"Well, almost nothing actually," he said.

"I just got the flyer back at home, but I haven't read it yet."

Chui said he expects to pay more for his electricity in the end.

Dias pointed to a pilot project in Ottawa that showed when people adapted their energy consumption to time-of-use pricing, they reduced the amount of electricity they used during prime time.

Thunder Bay Hydro serves 50,000 customers, including residential, small-business and industrial consumers.

 

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