LET HYDRO FREEZE IN THE DARK
Memo to Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin:
May I make a suggestion about the investigation into Hydro One you started in early February. You say you have never received such a flood of complaints about a provincial organization. Believe me, advertise that Toronto Hydro will be examined too - to hell with jurisdiction - and you will face a tsunami.
I have blogged often about the provincial and municipal Hydro outfits since there have always been a fat-cat arrogance about their operations. Maybe it is due to the fact they're a monopoly, damn it, and if you don't like it, buy a generator.
As your information director, Linda Williamson, will tell you from her days as Editor of the Toronto Sun (after me,) only the laws of libel have restrained me, and other columnists and letter writers, about the dunderheaded bureaucracy that produces so many obvious over billings through the years without any sense of shame. When these outfits goof in billing and then become stupid about immediate restitution, they mock the word utility.
The February letter of apology to everyone from Hydro One President Carmine Marcello says "the new billing system hasn't produced the level of service you deserve…" He said the previous system was more than a decade old and needed to be replaced. Marcello doesn't seem to understand that the previous system didn't work, the present system, obviously, doesn't work, and the heart of the matter is that too many meters just don't work accurately.
Farmers used to have a name for unprincipled but shrewd operators. And Marcello certainly is a
snollygoster. In the old days Hydro overcharged for every pole that the farmer needed to get electricity from the road after interminable waits for service. Nowadays, snollygosters come armed with meters that over-guess at how much power is used.
By the way, Andre, have you heard the one about my friend Alby who received an enormous Hydro One bill for his home in the Kawarthas even though he had spend the winter in Florida. Hydro One said his bill was triple the normal rate because neighbours must be running extension cords into his property. "But I live on top of a cliff," my friend said.
Got my Toronto Hydro bill. What a wonderful surprise. Due to the "competence" of its billing system and its "wonderful" new smart meters which have replaced mere mortals, the charge for 63 days ending Feb. 12 was only $127.74 higher than for the same period a year ago.
I shouted hosanna to the heavens. From what I've been reading about the financial atrocities reported to Marin, it could have been much worse. After all, Hydro even charges homeowners for electricity when their houses have burned down and there is plainly no electricity being used.
In my case, as was true with too much of Toronto, I had no power at all for 8% of the latest billing period, including the wonderful Christmas holiday. Since the blackout arrived at precisely the same time that my son Mark, home from Christmas for the occasion, was going to help me with outside and inside Christmas lights and a tree, I actually expected sort of a gift from Toronto Hydro.
You know, a lower bill because of no Christmas lights.
A year ago with Christmas lights proclaiming my love for the season from every inside and outside cranny of the Downing mansion, my bill for the period was $250.98. This year, despite the absence of that happy power drain, my bill was $378.72. And yet the bill will show, that is if you can believe any of the figures on it, that 64% of the power was used off peak when the price was supposedly the lowest.
Or so Hydro says. Hydrocrats weren't around yet when the expression was first coined about "figures lie and liars figure." but it could be their motto.
My meter, which is classed as a "smart" meter, which is just another joke that Hydrocrats like to pull on a gullible public, says we used 2449 kWh this time and 1693 a year ago. Sure we did. That difference is so large that there would have had to be a significant change in lifestyle. There wasn't. Subtract the power that the Christmas lights would have used and the difference becomes a mistake.
So what I am proposing, Mr. Obudsman, is that you have the police fraud squad come and collect meter number 10034531 from my house and have it tested by some electrician who is actually competent. Then have the Toronto police and the OPP randomly select 100 "smart" meters throughout the province and test them. Then the provincial cabinet should take the average margin of error, the average over billing, and use that figure to reduce by a similar amount the hourly pay of every person at Hydro One and Toronto Hydro who make more than the average wage in Canada.
Then fire all the people who stuck us with these "smart" meters in the first place because they have been notorious for years. I've never been convinced they're bad for our health, as some insist, but there are too many weird readings for them to be trusted.