Ontario Liberals announce more hydro gifts, would like us to remember them on election day

Ontario Liberals announce more hydro gifts, would like us to remember them on election day

Merry elections (Smart meter: Hydro One)

That sound coming from Queen’s Park could easily be confused with a government in near-panic over hydro bills, but Dalton McGuinty would really prefer to call it something else. So welcome to the latest break Ontarians are getting on their electricity bills after last week’s 10 per cent discount: an additional two hours of off-peak power for people who are on smart meters (at this point, almost all of Toronto.) The Toronto Star reports:

But the government source said it’s hard to say how much consumers will benefit from with the evening rate drop to off-peak prices, now at 5.1 cents per kilowatt hour—almost half the peak rate of 9.9 cents and well below the mid-peak rate of 8.1 cents.

“How much people could save depends on their energy patterns,” the source told the Star on Sunday.

“It’s a small adjustment but a meaningful one to families. Every little bit helps.”

The difference for families will be pretty noticeable—the difference between peak- and off-peak rates is as much as half, meaning that drying the laundry and running the dishwasher could get a lot cheaper.

The problem is that the opposition are (credibly) crying that this is just an election gimmick designed to add some yeast to McGuinty’s flagging poll numbers. The more substantial criticism here is simply that the government is getting bullied in to doing something that defies common sense. Anyone can take a look at graph of Ontario’s energy use and see when it peaks and when it falls again. We’re not utilities regulators, but can’t help but think this is going to make a mess of something. For a government that’s worked hard to burnish its vanilla-boring but technocratically competent cred, this is some facepalm fodder right here.

If this keeps up, we expect to see the Liberals announce their “screw it, hydro’s free until election day” announcement sometime after Labour Day.

Break coming on peak hydro pricing – next spring [Toronto Star]
Off-peak hydro savings to start earlier in Ontario [Globe and Mail]
Ontario peak hydro pricing break coming next spring [National Post]