Prescott family pulls the plug on Hydro One
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Wednesday, December 18, 2013 4:23PM EST
A family south of Ottawa has asked Hydro One to shut off their power, unable to pay their mounting bills. The Bakers insist something is wrong with their smart meter or their hydro equipment and refuse to pay until it's fixed. David and Marian Baker, who live near Prescott say their hydro bills used to be three hundred dollars in the coldest of months. But in the last few years, their bills have sometimes tripled.
They are not the only ones complaining about crazy bills or no bills at all from Hydro One.
David Baker is heating his 3400 square foot house only with wood. He always has, which is why he can't understand how his hydro use was so high some months.
“I heat with wood,” Baker says, as he tosses another log on, “I have energy efficient everything in the house.”
On average, a family of four in Ontario uses about 30 kilowatt hours per day. The bakers were being billed triple that amount sometimes. One bill showed an actual daily usage of 253 kilowatt hours per day.
Add to that a delivery charge of $239, regulatory charges, a debt retirement charge and HST and that is nearly $400 before a light switch has even gone on.
“I've had 3 different electricians check the house,” says Baker, “the worst thing we had was our toaster. He said it was using too much power so we threw it out and bought a new one.”
With the accumulated debt mounting into the hundreds, then thousands, the Bakers couldn't keep up.
“Our records show that your account is past due in the amount of $10,074.06,” reads Baker from a recent disconnection notice.
They say they have asked Hydro One several times to check their equipment though Hydro One disputes that.
"We do not have a request from this customer to come to their home to verify anything,” says Hydro One Media Relations Supervisor Tisiana Baccega Rosa, “we are happy to get out there.”
"I think there's a problem,” says David’s wife Mariam Baker, “and I think someone needs to come out and check it rather than telling me to come out and pay the bill. I’m not paying the bill. It’s too much.”
The Bakers are using a generator now and have asked Hydro One to shut off their power, which they did in mid-November. While that request is unusual, their problem isn't according to the MPP for the area.
'We've had situations where people haven't gotten a bill for 5 or 10 months,” says the Conservative MPP for Leeds-Grenville, Steve Clark.
Hydro has become a hot button issue in Ontario. Clark says the government needs to fix this, particularly for rural residents who are especially hard-hit.
“It's a complete shambles,” says Clark. “People like the Bakers are not alone. I’m at my wits end with Hydro.”
And so are the Bakers.
“It's a nightmare, just a nightmare,” says David Baker, as he sits at the kitchen table with his wife, hydro bills spread out all around them.
Hydro One has admitted problems with billing over the summer but says the problem has been fixed.
“In June, we went through a conversion to a different customer information system,” says Baccega Rosa, “that includes billing. Cstomers were notified for months this was happening and were notified that if they were not getting bills to contact Hydro One and to make your regular payments. That issue has now been rectified.”
That's news to several people who contacted CTV Ottawa, though, saying they still have not received bills and have not got an answer from Hydro One.