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Hydro has some ‘splainin’ to do


As if I weren’t confused enough already by Ontario Hydro changing their name to Enersource, OPG, Hydro One or whatever, now they’ve gone and done it again! The geniuses who run What’s-its-name have now decided to call themselves Alectra Utilities. It surely has something to do with trying to escape the negative perception of their brand in the market, otherwise, would someone please explain to me why they’re doing it again. Perhaps it gives them more nefarious channels to use for hiding fiscal mismanagement and reaming their customers. I finally just managed to sort out my gas bill from my hydro bill. In case you have the same problem—my gas bill comes under the name Enercare and my hydro bill is called Enersource. I’m not a stupid person but I’m probably not the only one who had to write that down to keep them straight.

As a retired Marketing Manager for a major corporation ($2 billion in new work annually) I have a working grasp of the concept, practicalities and costs involved in changing a brand’s name and logo. Lard thunderin’ jeasus! What are these people doing? Apparently, it’s to amalgamate several company names under one banner. Could they not have thought of this in the first place? We’re all doing our laundry on Saturdays and Sundays or off-hours in the middle of the night, turning off lights and lowering our thermostats to conserve energy and costs while the fat cats at What’s-its-name spend like drunken sailors.

How many Hydro workers does it take to screw in a light bulb? It’s no joke.

We’ve all seen hydro workers in the field. They’re easily recognizable—one person working in a bucket at the top of a pole while six others stand around on the ground with a cup of Timmie’s double/double in their hands. I’m not suggesting this could be part of the reason our hydro bills are so high, or am I? A friend worked in middle management at What’s-its-name for several years and reaching a point when she could no longer stand to be part of an organization that has no concept of controlling overheads or of management accountability, she left. Her stories were horrifying for those of us who toiled in the private sector.

Then, this morning came the pièce de résistance. I received an email from a company called (in case you’re still following this) Alectra Utilities. It’s a customer survey wanting to know my opinion on their operations. I completed the survey which was interspersed with pages of graphs and charts which 98% of people won’t read. The questions are cleverly skewed to justify their excesses and mismanagement. Here’s an example:

Now? You’re asking ME?

Thinking about Enersource’s forecasted plan for replacing aging infrastructure, which of the following statements best represents your point of view?

  • Enersource should look at the long-term health of the system and proactively spend what is needed to ensure costs are spread out evenly over time – even if that means higher rates.
  • Enersource should spend only what is needed to maintain system reliability – even if that means from year to year there may be fluctuations in the rate of capital investment.
  • Enersource should focus on keeping rates as low as possible in the near-term and only spend the bare minimum on replacing aging infrastructure – even if that means higher replacement costs in the future.
  • Don’t know

Here’s a link to the full survey in case you’re interested: http://surveys.alectracustomerfeedback.com/SE/1/survey01/

Ding dong. This isn’t a customer survey. It’s propaganda—thinly veiled permission to continue feeding the fat cat and justify decisions that What’s-its-name’s managers are being paid the mega-bucks to make on our behalf. I ticked off “Don’t Know” for most of the answers because that’s their job, although if they were doing it in the private sector, they’d be fired. Ticking off those innocuous little boxes could never begin to accurately convey what this customer really thinks. As if anyone listens, or cares.

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Are you as fed up with Hydro One and the Ontario Liberals as I am?


I thought extortion was illegal.

I thought extortion was illegal.

When I clicked to open my on-line hydro bill this morning, I nearly went into cardiac arrest. While clutching my chest, the first thing I had to do was check to see if the bill was for hydro or gas as the names sound the same and I’m always getting them confused—Enersource is for hydro electricity. Enercare is for gas. My bill has doubled in the last year, in part to pay for the gas plants fiasco. There’s been a lot of backlash about mismanagement of this resource by the Ontario Liberals and the situation is not improving. In fact, the problem is escalating. Everyone is aware of the fat-cat culture that has endured for generations at Enersource, Hydro One or what we used to call Ontario Hydro (and what we recalcitrant Boomers still call it), not to mention the pervading lack of accountability. Who hasn’t watched an idle field crew of six or seven Hydro One workers standing around on the ground next to several trucks watching one person up a pole or down in a manhole doing something. Do we even have an opposition leader these days? Where is whats-‘is-name when we poor taxpayers need someone to advocate on our behalf?

hydro3Does it not strike you as peculiar that Ontario is so blessed with abundant electrical resources that we end up dumping it to outside markets at cut rates just to meet our contractual obligations to Enersource/Hydro One? We’re all doing our best to conserve. I do my laundry on Sundays when the rates are cheapest and hang clothes outside whenever possible to save running the dryer; I run my dishwasher late at night when rates are lower; I go around turning off lights and try to be as efficient as possible in my daily use of power. The reward I get for this conscientious behaviour is the highest, most expensive electricity rates in North America while our government sells cheap surplus power to outsiders who don’t pay taxes here. My father lives on the Eastern Ontario border where they import electricity from Quebec and his bills are one-third of what I pay in the GTA.

Cut off their power and redirect it to those who will use it wisely.

Cut off their power and redirect it to those who will use it wisely.

It’s time to storm The Bastille. Emperor Kathleen Wynne and her gang of dilettantes must be brought to justice. Likewise, the lazy fat cats running Hydro One or Enersource or whatever they call themselves these days. We keep reading about the outrage experienced by Enersource customers but we all feel impotent to do anything about it. Let’s get the ball rolling with some suggestions: I’ll start.

  1. Turn off the air conditioning/heating and hot water at Queen’s Park and all the MPP’s homes including Premier Kathleen Wynne until they understand what it feels like to choose between paying your Hydro bill or buying groceries to feed your family.
  2. Send our laundry and dirty dishes to our MPP’s homes so they can pay for the increased costs of keeping our province clean. Perhaps we should shower there too.
  3. Launch a petition on Change.org demanding a transparent audit of Hydro One operations and the Ontario Government’s mismanagement of same.
  4. Slash the fat at Enersource by whatever method is the fastest and most effective. Put a single mother on a fixed income in charge of things there and task her with cleaning house. When she finishes there, she can go after Queen’s Park. (I realize this is sexist but since single mothers on average earn only seventy-six percent of what single fathers earn, mothers tend to be more creative and conscientious in their spending habits.)
  5. . . now it’s up to you.

Click on the Comment section of this blog and give me your suggestions on how we can stop the insanity. Answer this question:  “How can we fix the mismanagement by Hydro One and the Ontario Liberals?”. I’ll collect your feedback, publish it and we’ll see what happens. If the responses have merit, I’ll forward them on to Kathleen Wynne.  Power to the people.

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All we want is the whole truth and nothing but the truth


The current “he said—she said” flap about the economic viability of Ontario’s Smart Meters has me totally baffled. Should I or shouldn’t I have a smart meter?  Who should I believe? The Auditor General for Ontario, Bonnie Lysyk or the Hon Bob Chiarelli, the Minister of Energy for the provincial Liberal government?

The premise seems quite simple. According to Ontario Power, here’s what new digital Smart Meters do:

  • Measure how much energy you use and when you use it
  • Send your meter readings, automatically via wireless technology
  • Eliminate the need for you to submit your meter readings (if you do so today)
  • Eliminate the inconvenience of providing access to meters located indoors, behind locked gates etc.

smart metersWe have been further informed that by monitoring our smart meters we have the option of using our high-consumption electrical appliances during hours when rates are lower such as weekends and in the evenings. Sounds simple enough. That bit of logic prompted me to stop doing laundry whenever I felt like it during the week and switch to doing it on Sunday mornings when power rates are considerably lower. I no longer start the dishwasher after mealtime but now wait until later in the evening before I go to bed. That’s a no-brainer.

And now Bonnie Lysyk, the Auditor General for Ontario who has criticized the reporting of smart meter technology is accused by Bob Chiarelli of being incapable of truly understanding the complexity of the business case, despite the fact she has many degrees and qualifications in addition to years of practical experience in the power business in Western Canada. Is it because she is a woman and that’s just too much intelligence for her pretty little head to process? Or is Bob Chiarelli hiding something his government doesn’t want us to know?

Would someone please tell me the real truth here.

Would someone please tell me the real truth here.

Here’s the way I see it. Smart meters are a good thing. Using power during low-demand hours helps the service providers (I can’t even figure out who’s who now so I’ll just use the name Ontario Hydro—for those of us who also still prefer the Imperial system for measuring things) distribute their resources more evenly. Giving users a discount during these times as an incentive makes sense. I think the Auditor General’s beefs are with the reporting systems—by both Ontario Power (or whatever they’re called) and the Ontario Government. That would make sense as we all know what experts they both are in the use of smoke and mirrors to throw us off the scent of what is really rotten in the state of Ontario.

Therefore, nothing is new and probably nothing will change. We would be well-advised to embrace the technology of smart meters and modify our usage patterns. How can that be a bad thing? But don’t believe what the service providers or the government are telling us. Their individual prime objectives are to make themselves look good regardless of whether it’s good for us taxpayers and utility users or not. They’re the users. We’re the pawn. And I’m still baffled. Would someone please just give me the truth. I can handle it.