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Two Hydro One executives depart in wake of overbilling probe
Two of Hydro One’s top customer service executives have parted ways with the utility in the wake of ombudsman André Marin’s probe of billing practices.
by Robert Benzie – February 22, 2014
Two of Hydro One’s top customer service executives have parted ways with the utility in the wake of ombudsman André Marin’s probe of billing practices, the Star has learned.
Sources say Rick Stevens, vice-president of customer services, retired on Friday and customer-service director Mark Fukuzawa departed on Wednesday.
“As a matter of privacy and policy, I am not in a position to comment on specific human resources issues,” said Daffyd Roderick, Hydro One’s corporate communications director.
According to the Ministry of Finance, Stevens made $305,638 and Fukuzawa earned $204,370 in 2012, the most recent year for which salaries are available.
It is not clear what they will be paid as they leave.
Electricity industry insiders confided that the two executives departure is a result of Marin’s wide rangeing investigation into the company’s overbilling problems.
The province’s watchdog announced earlier this month he was looking into Hydro One’s “egregious errors and baffling bills” after being inundated with complaints from customers.
“Sometimes it’s like wrestling with a slippery pig and that’s why my heart goes out to those average citizens that try to take on the Goliath that is Hydro One,”Marin said on Feb. 4.
As of Friday afternoon, the ombudsman had received 4,381 complaints, by far the most on a single government organization in the almost four-decade history of his office.
The provincially owned utility has blamed a new $153.7-million customer system changeover last May for the mix-ups and has promised to fix the problems.
Refunds will be issued where necessary, no customers will be charged interest for any mistake, and nobody’s power is being cut off due to billing errors.
With about 1.3 million customers, Hydro One is the province’s largest electricity company.
Marin has noted that a common complaint from customers is they don’t receive bills for several months and are then walloped with a huge direct withdrawal from their bank accounts.
In a few cases, ratepayers have apparently had to pay $10,000 or $20,000 all at once, sometimes in error.
But instead of refunding the amount errantly taken, Hydro One issues a credit against future bills.
Another problem is estimated bills — as many as 70,000 Hydro customers are believed to be waiting to find out what they owe for the power they consumed.
With an election possible this spring, the Hydro One debacle is a potential political headache for Premier Kathleen Wynne’s minority Liberal government.
It comes after a damning report [see below] in Ontario Power Generation by auditor general Bonnie Lysyk in December led to that utility firing its chief financial officer, its executive vice-president of strategic initiatives, and its internal audit vice-president.
Sensus Smart Meter Deployed In Waterloo Region And North America Not Safe According To Underwriters Laboratories ( Ul)
Published November 4, 2012
By Howard Kalnitsky
So get this..not only do we have to worry about the radio frequency smog coming off these meters but they have also caused some serious house fires in Pennsylvania.
The model that this article is written about can be viewed in the picture below.
This meter is in wide use throughout North America and the picture below is from my home.
I will be having this removed asap and hopefully go back to a non wireless model or something that only turns on once per day.
For electrically sensitive people these meters mess with their health and well being.
For the rest of the population, you are being exposed needlessly because the utility made a decision to install these without taking into consideration the well being of their customers.
As stated elsewhere on this website, we don’t know the long term effect of exposure to all the e-smog we are being bombarded with.
But dozens of studies point to an assortment of medical maladies that are already afflicting people worldwide because of incidental exposure.
So what right does your utility have to impose their business decision on you and by doing that potentially putting you in harms way?
You can read about the utility in Philadelphia that is getting rid of the wireless Sensus Flexnet 530X.
This particular meter gained popularity because of its’ ability to put out an extremely strong signal that carries for miles.
There is no legal requirement for the meter to be wireless in Ontario Canada. I can’t speak for any other jurisdiction as I don’t know.
It simply must be a smart meter and capable of sending back information to the utility once per day.
Also the company that makes the Sensus meter is in financial difficulty and looking for a buyer.
CTV Toronto coverage CBC News coverage
Hudak pledges to axe mandatory smart meter program
The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Ontario Tory leader Tim Hudak says mandatory smart meters are dumb.
He says if he’s elected premier on Oct. 6 he will axe the program that forces seniors to do their laundry in the middle of the night.
Smart meters allow people to shift electricity-consuming chores to off-peak times when power rates are lower.
But Hudak says too many families are unable to do that, so the system amounts to another tax.
The Progressive Conservative leader says people who like the idea designed to conserve power can opt in.
Hudak does not say what power would end up costing if the system is scrapped but says flat-rate metering would continue.
Hydro Ottawa threatens to cut mom’s power
Woman refuses to have smart meter installed in home
BY AEDAN HELMER ,OTTAWA SUN
FIRST POSTED: THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2011 11:11 PM EDT
The registered letter that landed in Monica Bonnah’s hands on Tuesday was the last straw for the Alta Vista mother of two.
After two years of polite requests, Hydro Ottawa threatened to cut Bonnah’s power — she would be on the hook for any reconnection fees — if she didn’t schedule an appointment to have a smart meter installed in her home within two business days.
“Why am I being forced to get a smart meter when I don’t want one, and I’ve been telling them for two years? And don’t tell me you’re going to cut my electricity off. I’ve got two kids here and I pay my bills on time,” said Bonnah. “I hang up my clothes, I do my laundry on the weekends, my lights are off when they’re not in use. I don’t need a smart meter to tell me when to be smart.”
David McKendry, Hydro Ottawa’s director of customer service, said the power authority has been responding to a provincial initiative by installing more than 300,000 smart meters in the city — representing 99.8% of their customer base — accompanied by an extensive communication campaign.
“Disconnection is absolutely the last recourse we have in any customer interaction,” said McKendry, adding most customers with smart meters have noticed little change in their bottom line.
Count Bonnah as one holdout among the remaining 0.2%.
“I really feel sorry for the people who are on limited incomes who have to get up in the middle of the night to do their laundry to save money,” she said. “I’ve also read a lot about how having these waves in your house may be a health risk.”
Bonita Poulin, Canadian co-ordinator of an awareness campaign around chemical sensitivity affecting civilians and military personnel, said, “Canadians have to allow ourselves to be poisoned because that is what our government says.”
But McKendry said the radio frequency fields emitted by the meters are well below the safety threshold allowed by Health Canada.
“Biomedical studies in Canada and elsewhere indicate no scientific or medical evidence that a person will experience adverse health effects from exposure to (safe levels of) radio frequency fields,” said McKendry.
Still, Bonnah may be buoyed to see the issue raised on the campaign trail, with Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak pledging to “unplug” the mandatory meters.
“This isn’t just an election issue,” said Bonnah. “This is my issue.”
Hudak will unplug smart meters, Chudleigh says
Aug 17, 2011
Driving the message that a Progressive Conservative government would reduce home energy bills, Halton MPP Ted Chudleigh said the Smart meter would go with his party in power.
Chudleigh and Oakville PC candidate Larry Scott stopped outside the Oakville Beaver office to chat with reporters.
Calling the time-of-use Smart meters nothing more than a tax grab for the government, Chudleigh said Conservative party leader Tim Hudak will unplug the devices.
“A Tim Hudak, PC party government will unplug Dalton McGuinty’s mandatory time-of-use Smart meters. We’re the only party willing to take a stand for Ontario families who are sick and tired of being told what to do and when to do it,” Chudleigh said.
“(People) tell us they can no longer afford Dalton McGuinty’s expensive energy experiments. In fact, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters estimates the average Ontario household hydro bills will increase by a staggering $732 a year by 2015, representing another huge bite taken out of the family budget.”
Furthermore, he said Ontario families are on the hook to pay $1 billion to install the Smart meters on every home and small business, at $200 per household.
Despite the introduction of Smart meters, energy consumption has not gone down, he said.
“Instead (the Liberals) did something really amazing,” Chudleigh said. “They broke the law of supply and demand. McGuinty’s scheme raised the price of electricity for almost all Ontarians without promoting conservation.”
Chudleigh also talked about non-traditional power sources introduced in recent years in Ontario, including solar power.
“Certainly we want to be as ecologically sensitive as we can be,” he said. “Solar energy is an experimental form of energy, in my opinion, at this time. We can’t possibly pay 80 cents a kilowatt-hour for something that we’re selling for 6.8 cents a kilowatt-hour. It just doesn’t make sense.”
He added when the price can go down from 80 cents to somewhere between 20-30 cents it may be a viable option.
“We’re not anti-environmental,” added Scott. “We just think it should make sense. You should price it in properly, you should make sure you’ve got the kind of competition, which drives the price to its lowest level.”
Among the examples of non-competitive, improperly priced deals, Scott mentioned the Samsung energy deal that will cost $1 billion per year.
Chudleigh said a PC government would return the province to affordable energy sources.
“Our plan is to maximize hydro use, the use of water, gas powered and nuclear – traditional and proven sources of power that aren’t an experiment and they are cost effective,” he said.
Acknowledging that nuclear power will take time to implement, Chudleigh said there is an excess of power for the moment. Because Ontario has seen a reduction of manufacturing jobs, electric consumption has not reached the summer peak since 2004 and winter peak since 2006.
“We do have a sleeve of power for the foreseeable future. That’s maybe a five year horizon,” he said. “Certainly a nuclear plant is going to take 12 to 15 years to build, and until that time, our emphasis will be on gas and water-powered electricity. There’s about 3,000 megawatts estimated of hydropower left to develop. Some emphasis on that is a good direction to send Ontario in. That’s the cleanest and most renewable of forms of creating electricity.”
The provincial election will take place on Thursday, Oct. 6.
Hudak keys in on “tax machines”: smart meters
PC leader visits home of Scarborough couple
by Danielle Milley August 17, 2011
Though the government has already spent nearly $1 billion installing them, Tim Hudak wants to unplug the province’s smart meters.The leader of the Progressive Conservative party was in Scarborough Tuesday morning to announce – if his party wins on Oct. 6 – it will end mandatory time-of-use pricing that goes along with the smart meters.
“Time-of-use smart meters have become nothing more than tax machines…Sadly, the Velummailum’s story is one I’m hearing not only in Scarborough, but right across Ontario,” Hudak said.
He made the announcement at the home of Ruthiran and Sakuntha Velummailum, small business owners who have seen both their business and residential electricity bills rise since the smart meters were installed and time-of-use rates introduced.
Smart meters are able to measure electricity usage hourly so that allows electricity providers (such as Toronto Hydro) to charge different rates depending on the time of day the electricity is used. When electricity demand is at its highest (peak), rates cost the most and the least in off-peak times such as weekends. Power generated during peak times is also usually the most environmentally damaging.
This means people are being asked to do laundry or run the dishwasher only on weekends or at night if they want to pay the lowest rate (Toronto Hydro recently lowered the evening start time for the lowest rate from 9 p.m. to 7 p.m.).
“We normally do the laundry in the night time and on Saturday and Sunday,” said Sakuntha. “We turn the lights off and we still get higher bills.”
The Velummailums said their residential bills have gone up by $100 a month.
Hudak said he wants to give people the choice to opt into time-of-use rates if they want to, but not make it mandatory.
“This summer when the heat has gone up well into the 30s families were sweltering for fear of putting on the air conditioning during the day,” Hudak said. “I believe there is a better way. There is one expert who knows best how to run your home and that’s you…I just don’t believe it’s the role of the premier to lecture my mom to get up in the middle of the night to do her laundry.”
The Velummailums said they would be voting for local PC candidate Mike Chopowick, running in Scarborough Southwest, this time around. They voted Liberal in 2007.
Hudak also pledged to remove the HST and debt retirement charge from home hydro bills.
Ontario PCs Call for Wasteful OPA Bureaucracy to be Scrapped
by Richard Wakefield
QUEEN’S PARK-Today, Ontario PC Deputy Leader Christine Elliott called on Dalton McGuinty to scrap the wasteful and bloated bureaucracy known as the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), whose ballooning budget and expenses are contributing to Ontario families’ skyrocketing hydro bills.
Originally conceived as a “virtual” and “transitional” agency, the OPA has expanded from 15 employees when it was created in 2005 to over 300 employees today. OPA expenses have exploded by a staggering 465%. The number of OPA salaries over $100,000 has grown from six in 2005 to 75 including former Dalton McGuinty spokesperson Ben Chin who made $185,000 at OPA last year.
Longtime Liberals Patrick Monaghan, Lyn McLeod, and Adele Hurley are also on the OPA Board.While Dalton McGuinty rewards his friends at the OPA, Ontario families are seeing their hydro bills skyrocket. Hydro rates have already gone up 75 percent under Dalton McGuinty, over 100 percent if you have smart meter tax machine. What’s worse, family hydro bills are expected toincrease another 46 percent over the next few years, according to Dalton McGuinty’s own low-ball estimate.
“Six years ago, Dalton McGuinty created the Ontario Power Authority saying it was a transitional agency and promising it would produce a long-term energy plan. But all he has to show after six years are skyrocketing hydro bills and a record of backtracking from the offshore wind experiment and screwed up microFIT experiment the OPA produced for him.”– Christine Elliott, Deputy Ontario PC Leader
“When the Ontario Power Authority is not wasting money, it is busy finding ways to make life miserable for Ontario families. It’s time to scrap the OPA bureaucracy and once and for all put families first.”– John Yakabuski, Ontario PC Energy Critic
QUICK FACTS:· The “virtual” and “transitional” OPA bureaucracy has expanded from 15 employees when it was created in 2005 to over 300 employees today.·
OPA expenses have grown over that time from $14.1 million to $79.7 million – an increase of 465%.·
The number of six figure salaries at the OPA has skyrocketed from six to 75 – a staggering increase of 1,250%.
Ontario Smart Meters making people feel sick
OCTOBER 2010 Stratford
Smart Meters – They’re Smart, But Are They Safe?
NOVEMBER 8 2010
Stratford Ontario, Smart City - One of the First (MESH NETWORKS) in the World says Motorola
“Stratford is one of the first communities in the world to deploy a metering platform enabled by wireless broadband.”
Paul West, Business development manager, Rhyzome Networks
End smart meter hydro program: Ont. opposition
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Ontario’s smart meter program needs to be scrapped, the opposition demanded Wednesday after Premier Dalton McGuinty refused to rule out a price increase for electricity during peak demand hours.
After saying Tuesday that off-peak electricity rates should be lowered to convince people to change their habits to take advantage of time-of-use pricing, McGuinty wouldn’t say Wednesday if that could mean a rise in rates at peak demand times.
“I’m not going to get into that because I’m not the expert, but what I can say is that we’ve got to make sure the differential between peak and off-peak is significant, so significant that it motivates people,” said McGuinty.
“We’ve got to make sure people understand the opportunities there, the options available to them.”
The New Democrats said McGuinty’s comments have them worried about an increase in the peak rate for hydro, which is already nearly double what Ontario residents used to pay for power 24 hours a day.
“It’s quite disconcerting that the premier dodged that question,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.
“I really don’t want to see the government making more decisions that make life less affordable for folks.”
‘People deserve a choice’
The Opposition accused McGuinty of forcing people to dramatically alter their behaviour in order to get the lowest electricity rates, and said consumers should be able to opt out of the smart meter program.
“Who’s looking out for the senior citizen who is being lectured by Dalton McGuinty to do her laundry at two in the morning? Who’s looking out for the family with multiple kids who’s being told by Dalton McGuinty to get them showered and ready for school at five or six in the morning?” asked Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.
“I think people deserve a choice whether they want to engage in using smart meters or not.”
The government has spent about $1.5 billion to install 4.1 million smart meters in homes, with a goal of 4.4 million, but the cost of the meters is added to electricity bills, which were already on the rise because of the HST and green energy charges.
A survey by Toronto Hydro showed about 80 per cent of people using smart meters are seeing increases, not decreases on their bills.
Hudak said the program should be halted immediately because it’s not helping lower hydro bills or convincing consumers to switch their heavy electricity use to late at night.
“Dalton McGuinty’s smart meters have been nothing but a tax machine to take more money out of people’s pockets,” he said.
“This project has gone dangerously off the rails.”
Hudak’s plan “would return Ontario to the days of weak, unreliable and dirty power,” said Energy Minister Brad Duguid.
“That’s the way the system was that we inherited from him, when he was in [the PC] cabinet, and that’s why we’ve worked so hard over the last six years to … build up our system so we’ve got the power and reliability in it that Ontario families can count on.”
The smart meters will help consumers keep a lid on rising hydro bills, but won’t mean lower electricity bills.
“Smart meters are one factor that will help consumers mitigate some of the increases, but smart meters are not meant to be the panacea that’s going to provide consumers with the ability to completely avoid all potential increases down the road,” added Duguid.
CUPE : Ontario should get smart, follow Hydro Quebec decision to abandon time-of-use meters, electricity coalition says
December 12, 2007
TORONTO — The Ontario government would be doing consumers a favour if it were to follow the example of Hydro Quebec and abandon its plan to install so-called smart meters in all homes in the province, says the Ontario Electricity Coalition.
Ontario Energy Board issued directive on smart grid development
Toronto, ON, Canada — (METERING.COM) — November 26, 2010 -
Ontario’s minister of energy has issued a directive to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to provide guidance to licensed distributors and transmitters in relation to activities in support of establishing and implementing a smart grid in the province. In particular guidance is requested on the preparation of plans for the development and implementation of a smart grid, and the criteria that the Board will use to evaluate smart grid plans.
Smart meter use on hold for most of Windsor-Essex (Ontario)
Tuesday, November 23, 2010 | 1:46 PM ET CBC News
Ontario’s Power Trip : Is this ‘smart’ ?
While Ontario’s electricity infrastructure deteriorates, the province is spending billions on smart meters.