Ye be warned…rant ahead.
If you were to look back at my twitter feed at around the 19th of the last couple months, you’ll likely find an angry tweet regarding my hydro bill. Of all the bills I get, the hydro bill is the best at making my blood boil. It’s like instant high blood pressure in an envelope. It’s not the actual cost of electricity that bothers me. I use the power, I should pay for it, that only seems fair. What drives me coo-coo bananas are the fees that get tacked onto that bill.
For example, my December hydro bill was $220. Ouch. Good thing I’m a grinch and didn’t put up Christmas lights. My bill was higher because my baseboard heaters were going a little more and I was home during peak hours (yes, we have those smart meters and time of use billing in these parts) during my time off. Fair enough. The cost of the hydro I used: $111.53. The rest of my bill: $84.70 for delivery, $9.96 for regulatory charges, and $9.64 for debt retirement. Add those extra fees up and it’s almost 50% of the bill. What really makes me see red is the delivery charge. You want to know why? I live close enough to a nuclear reactor that I can see it, yet I’m paying a higher delivery charge than someone say, in London, Windsor, Kitchener-Waterloo, or the GTA who live much further away from the sources of power (the people of Pickering excluded of course).
The Hydro One delivery charge is calculated based on population and the number of customers per kilometer, so higher density areas get a cheaper delivery rate than those of us who live in medium or low density areas. There is no consideration of the spatial distance between the power source and user to whom the electricity is delivered, which seems just a little odd for a freaking delivery charge. Hydro One says the delivery charge covers things like: replacing and maintaining equipment, build and upgrade facilities to keep up with customer growth, fund smart meter installation, connect renewable generation projects (I am not touching that issue with a 30 foot creosote soaked pole), and pay for capital costs for physical infrastructure and systems.
Ok, given that it seems like the delivery charge covers infrastructure, but I still can’t figure out why I’m charged more than someone in an urban setting. You could argue that in a higher density area the cost is spread out over a larger number of people, but let me point this out. It’s not just cheap wooden poles bringing the power to the GTA – it’s miles and miles of high voltage steel towers. The Bruce to Milton project, which will bring electricity generated at the Bruce Nuclear site to the GTA is 180 km of 500 kV lines (so about 730 steel towers) at a cost of $695 million dollars. This is in addition to the existing line of high voltage towers. The municipality I live has approximately 4000 people all serviced by wooden poles. A wooden hydro pole costs approximately $2500 (transformer, wire, installed, the works I’m told) and I’m a lot closer than 180 km to the nearest power plant. Yet, I pay more for delivery through cheaper infrastructure and over a shorter distance than someone who lives further away serviced by more expensive infrastructure.
Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do about the delivery charge or any of those other fees, aside from rant. Well, no, I think I might go light some candles and hang out in near darkness. Take that Hydro One!
Are there any fees that make you see red?