Ontario’s hydro prices have risen twice as fast as the national average over the past decade, says a new study from the think-tank Fraser Institute.
The report found that Toronto hydro users paid an average of $201 a month in 2016 while Ottawa residents paid $182 a month. Other cities ranged from $83 (Montreal) to $183 (Charlottetown).
Toronto bills increased 62.1 per cent from 2010 to 2016, while Ottawa bills rose 57.9 per cent. Vancouver had the next highest increase at 35.9 per cent. Calgary hydro bills decreased slightly. The Canadian average was 22.1 per cent.
The Fraser Institute looked at 12 major Canadian cities and did not include rural hydro bills for the study. Hydro One customers have seen their bills rise even faster than city dwellers in the last seven years.
The think-tank also said Ontario’s electricity prices increased 15 per cent from 2015 to 2016 while the national average was six per cent.
“The province’s policies surrounding renewable energy (wind, solar, and biomass) have resulted in large additional costs for consumers, whether from poorly structured long-term contracts, the phase-out of coal energy or the contributions of green energy sources to the growing supply and demand imbalance in the province,” reads the report. “High costs of renewable energy are particularly troubling given the relatively small amount of electricity that these sources generate.”
With an election less than a year away, the provincial government has been trying to get back in voters’ good graces by temporarily reducing electricity prices. The province reduced hydro bills by 25 per cent this year by refinancing $28 billion worth of loans for building and refurbishing power plants, therefore giving residents a break now but adding about $14 billion in interest costs over the long run.
“Thus, the overall effect of the government’s policy decisions will be to further increase electricity rates in the long term, not reduce them,” said the Fraser Institute.