Paying for power bills on a vacant piece of land
There are yet more complaints about hydro bills, this one from the owners of a vacant lot outside of Carleton Place. Krista and Trevor Simpson say their hydro bills don't seem to reflect that there is nothing on their property. Their 48 acres of land is on Ramsay Concession Road 1, just a few kilometres outside Carleton Place where they hope to build a house next year.
The mailbox is there, but nothing else except empty space and dreams.
“My husband and I purchased over a year ago with the intention to build,” says Krista Simpson, as she stands on the road, overlooking her land.
This spring, the Simpsons had power hooked up through Hydro One with the plan to build their house next spring. They camped a couple times on the property in the summer, even hooked up a beer fridge for a bit, that drew some power.
But with nothing else on the property, the couple was surprised to see hydro bills hovering over $100, with significant delivery charges attached.
“I don't know what they're delivering,” says Simpson, looking over her bills, “the power has been shut off, we are not using any power, not generating any energy so I don't understand where the bills are coming from.”
Hydro One says the delivery charges are set by the Ontario Energy Board; customers pay them as long as the equipment is there and as long as they can draw power any time they want. As for the hydro use, it is based on estimates, with an actual meter reading quarterly.
“Estimates are based on a customer's past usage,” says Tiziana Baccega Rosa, with Hydro One, “so
future bills will be more accurate to the actual consumption.”
Hydro One says the Simpsons do have a credit coming back to them, after the three month actual reading, and with a history now that reflects their lower usage, their monthly bills will probably even out to about $50 dollars a month, instead of averaging $140.
The Mayor for Carleton Place says rising hydro costs has been a big issue in his community.
“I've received a number of complaints in last 6 months,” says Louis Antonakos, “This is a significant challenge for our provincial counterparts, they must address this. It is becoming a major challenge for us.”
Costs have risen significantly for homeowners, Antonakos says, but also for the municipalities. He says it is difficult for communities to remain competitive, as well, trying to attract outside businesses to set up shop in Ontario with hydro prices where they are.
Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne acknowledged the problem over the weekend and admitted she takes responsibility for it.
“We have made changes,” Wynne said, “We took the retirement debt charge off and there will be further reductions at beginning of January when the provincial portion of the HST comes off people’s bills but we know that's not enough.”
The Simpsons still plan to build their dream home on this rural piece of heaven; they may just look at a different way to power it.
“I think we might have to go off grid and get solar power here,” Krista Simpson says.
Hydro One says the Simpsons do have a credit coming back to them -- and that their bills will probably even out to about $50 bucks a month -- until they build.