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Bad time to increase rates

lance goosen cartoon

(Cartoon by Lance Goosen)

Oshawa PUC Networks Inc. (OPUC) is applying to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to increase electricity distribution rates despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the OEB, energy distributors such as OPUC will usually apply for a full review of their rates once every five years, but they can apply for rate changes in the meantime.

If approved, the rate increase will begin effective Jan. 1, 2021, and will see a typical residential customer get an increase of $1.57 every month, which amounts to $18.84 through the year.

For general service customers of less than 50kW (2,000 kWh), the increase will see an extra $2.56 per month, or $30.72 per year.

While this doesn’t appear to be much for some, during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than one million Ontario residents lost their jobs.

Many have returned to work, which means many have had to live off the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and are still looking for new work.

This may be routine for companies such as OPUC, now is not an appropriate time to increase rates, even if it is such a small amount for some.

Many are still looking for new sources of income, and many businesses are just scraping by, having just been forced to shut down for months.

Also, while the economy has already been forced to shut down once due to the pandemic, and COVID-19 numbers have been steadily decreasing, experts expect another wave in the fall.

A second wave would once again force businesses to shut down, and would keep people at home, thus crippling their income.

Simply put, while it may be routine for OPUC to apply for a rate increase right now, it is an inappropriate time to do so, as the pandemic has left a wound in the world’s economy.