Hydro One Billing and Customer Service Fiasco


Letter to the Editor: December 18, 2014


Last week, the Auditor General of Ontario released her annual report revealing what many have known all along – that people in Ontario are paying billions of dollars extra for electricity because of a flawed smart meter program and the above-market rates the province pays to most power generators.

We thought it couldn’t get any worse than when the Liberals wasted a billion dollars on the gas plants scandal; however this government actually doubled down and wasted another two billion dollars on smart meters that do not work.

In addition to the financial costs, the Auditor General found that smart meters have done little to reduce peak energy use, which was the intent of the program in the first place. This news comes on the heels of a year-long battle between Hydro One and Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock customers who have been victimized by a flawed and mismanaged billing system and a total disregard for customer service. 

The report also found that ratepayers will pay $50 billion between 2006 and 2015 in Global Adjustment Charges, on their electricity bills.  This charge is intended to cover the gap between the heavily subsidized prices paid green energy. 60% of that can be traced to wind and solar power generators and the actual market price.

Every homeowner in Ontario has paid and will continue to pay, $1,000 a year in Global Adjustment Charges. By 2015, each Ontario household will have handed over $10,000 in hidden taxes because of this governments complete mishandling of the energy file.

When you see these numbers, it really is no wonder why our hydro bills are at record highs.

This report validates what I have been hearing from my constituents for several years.  The tragic part of this whole fiasco is the devastating human cost attached to this government’s mismanagement. Spiralling hydro bills are forcing some families to choose between keeping the lights on and putting food on the table. This problem becomes even more severe during the cold months of winter.

All of this could be redirected to schools, to hospitals, to those with disabilities, to paying down our debt, but instead, all that money goes to pay for this government’s mismanagement and scandals.

Premier Wynne claims to welcome accountability – well it is time she finally start showing some respect to Ontario taxpayers. I urge constituents to contact my office (705-324-6654 or 1-800-424-2490) with any Hydro One billing issues they may have and I will continue to bring attention to this issue and hold the government to account in the Legislature in 2015.




March 2014

Hydro One Update

 

Many of you are concerned about Hydro One’s poor billing and customer service practices.  I have written to the Minister of Energy to ask that he address these issues (see letter below).

If you live in the area of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock and are having billing issues with Hydro One, please contact my constituency office at 705-324-6654 or 1-800-424-2490.

The demand is great and we are working through the massive number of complaints we have received from affected constituents at this time.

 

 

January 7, 2014

Hon. Bob Chiarelli
Minister of Energy
900 Bay Street, 4th Floor
Hearst Block
Toronto ON M7A 2E1

 

Open Letter regarding Hydro One billing and customer service fiasco

Dear Minister, I am writing today on behalf of the constituents of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock who rely upon Hydro One for their electricity, for accurate information about the cost of their electricity usage and for respectful customer service.

I have heard from numerous Hydro One customers from my riding who have been the victims of Hydro One's billing fiasco and pathetic customer service practices.  Individuals who haven't received their bills have called Hydro One's Billing and Service Inquiries line.  Many individuals have reported being told by customer service representatives that they didn't receive bills because they don't have an outstanding balance. Later those customers receive a huge bill and when they call to question that they are threatened with having their electricity cut off if they can't pay immediately.

I can personally attest to the stories of inaccurate information from customer service.  At one point when I hadn't received a statement in a few months but my payments were being taken from my bank account I called the Billing and Service Inquiries line.  I was told on two separate occasions that my address was wrong as a result of the new system and that they would resend the statements. When I still didn't receive the statements, my staff called the MPP inquiry line and found out that there was no record of my address having been updated or of the statements having been resent.

I do not understand why the customer service representatives are not giving accurate information since when my constituency office calls the MPP line, we are able to get accurate information.  Why is the same information not available to the customer service representatives? Or, if that information is available to them, why are they giving out inaccurate information? Furthermore, why are Hydro One customer service representatives allowed to be rude and condescending to customers.

For now I am advising my constituents to contact my office with any billing issues so we can get accurate information for them from the MPP line.  This takes much longer because it requires getting a consent form signed and submitted and then there is usually a four to six week wait for an answer, but at least the answer is accurate and delivered politely.

I have three concerns. First of all, billing should be accurate.

Secondly, Hydro One's customer service people should be honest and polite and only share accurate information or at the very least acknowledge that they don't have accurate information.  Finally, no customers should be cut off as a result of this mismanagement of Hydro One's billing system.

What are you doing to address these problems? And once the accounting issues are resolved, will you ensure Hydro One gives people a grace period to pay their bills?

Sincerely,

Laurie Scott, MPP
Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock