Ombudsman investigation yet another example of a hydro system that’s failing people: Horwath

New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath says an investigation into Hydro One billing launched by Ontario Ombudsman André Marin today is just the latest example of a government hydro system that just isn’t working for the people who are paying the bills. Horwath says she looks forward to the investigation into billing problems that the government has been denying for years.

“For families and businesses that are struggling to pay the bills, this is just another example of a hydro system that isn’t working for them,” said Horwath. “Seniors living on fixed incomes shouldn’t be opening their bank statements to find out that the hydro company cleaned out their life savings. Instead of taking action to solve the issue, the government denies there’s a problem while more and more families get stuck with massive bills.”

The NDP Leader says that complaints about Hydro One’s billing practices have been building for years, even while cabinet ministers insisted that the problem was being solved. Horwath first called on the Ombudsman to investigate Hydro One billing errors in 2010, when she sent a letter to Marin citing multiple instances of Ontarians being billed up to ten times the normal amount, or having their life savings drained from their bank accounts by Hydro One. At the time, Liberal Energy Minister Brad Duguid insisted that soon such issues “will be a problem of the past” and claimed, “we’re solving the problem” (Toronto Star, December 14, 2010).

But the problems have grown worse. New Democrats have been contacted by dozens of Ontario homeowners and businesses about overbilling, including a saw mill operator whose power bill stayed high even when the mill was shut down for weeks at a time. Another complaint came from a retired school teacher who has had to take out a loan against his woodstove-heated home to pay for hydro bills which suddenly increased almost tenfold.

“Billing errors for thousands of dollars are threatening the livelihoods of families across the province, and Hydro One only addresses the issue when it gets dragged in front of the media. Something has to change,” said Horwath. “This issue is not only affecting family homes – small businesses across the province are being overbilled for power they aren’t using, and are at risk of shutting their doors. Ontarians deserve better.”

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