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Rate increase possible for OPUC consumers

Oshawa PUC Networks Inc. (OPUC) is applying to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to increase electricity rates.

If approved, the increase will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021 and will see a typical residential customer with an increase of $1.57 per month ($18.84 per year). For general service customers of less than 50kW (2,000 kWh), the increase will amount to $2.56 per month ($30.72 per year).

According to OPUC President Ivano Labricciosa, the proposed rate changes will be used to replace aging and failing infrastructure that undermines reliability of supply; adding capacity to the grid; investing in technology to stay current with industry standards as well as customer needs to ensure the grid is well supported for changing and challenging environments it might face; and improving the service quality and reliability. This includes investing in online resources to improve customer convenience; customer information systems to improve accuracy; and power outage predictability and detection technology to improve response times.

Labricciosa says plans on the new five-year cycle began about two years ago, noting the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t change the fact equipment continues to age.

“The grid is the grid. It’s still aging. If we don’t do it now, what then?”

He notes aging isn’t the only issue, but also condition.

“It’s a matter of viability versus the rates, and we think this is the right balance.”

As many people are still working from home and students will be learning online, Labricciosa says people are dependent on their electricity now more than ever and need a reliable source of power in order to be successful going forward.

According to the OEB, distributors such as OPUC typically apply for a full review of their rates every five years. Any rate changes for the years in between are made by applying an OEB-approved formula which is tied to inflation and other factors intended to promote efficiency.

“The OEB is an independent and impartial public agency. We make decisions that serve the public interest,” states the OEB. “Our goal is to promote a financially viable and efficient energy sector that provides you with reliable energy services at a reasonable cost.”

As part of the application process, the Ontario Energy Board will hold a public hearing to allow residents to voice their opinions.

According to the OEB, there are two types of hearings – oral and written – and OPUC has applied for a written hearing.

During the hearing, OEB will question OPUC on its case for a rate increase, and hear questions and arguments from individuals who have registered to participate (called intervenors) in the hearing.

Residents can view OPUC’s application online and file a letter with comments, which will be considered during the hearing.

Residents can also become an intervenor, ask questions about the application and make arguments on whether the OEB should approve the request. Applications to become an intervenor must be submitted by Sept. 8.

For more information, visit www.oeb.ca/notice with the file number for this case: EB-2020-0048, or call the OEB Consumer Relations Centre at 1-877-632-2727.

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