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Short-term gain, long-term pain

This past week was a busy one for hydro hounds in Oshawa.

The first piece of information came when news broke that the city’s local power company, the Oshawa Power and Utilities Corporation, would not be going forward with a merger with its other counterparts in Durham Region, Whitby Power and the Veridian Corporation.

The move was criticized because, with one company potentially holding a monopoly over the region’s power, rates could be going up. In fact, Ivanno Labricciosa, OPUC’s CEO, said just as much at a summer open house.

And with hydro prices jumping their way up year after year like they have been for the past decade, the last thing anyone needs is yet another price bump. Thankfully, it appears that an amalgamation-induced price increase is off the table for Oshawa residents. Fingers crossed that the same can be said to the city’s neighbours in Durham Region, as Whitby Hydro and Veridian are still exploring the idea of merging.

The next day, the province was hit by some hydro news as well when it was announced that, hearing the pleas of those across Ontario, power rates were going to be going down. The news, announced by Premier Kathleen Wynne, will see a 17 per cent decrease in rates, effective this June. This is on top of the eight-per-cent rebate that came into effect at the start of 2017.

While on the face of it, lower hydro rates are a good thing – after all, it’s what many have been asking of this government for years, and no matter your socioeconomic position, lower prices are always a good thing – there is a catch. To fund this price drop, the province is refinancing its electricity generation contracts, stretching them on for more years down the line. And as anyone who has taken out a mortgage would know, a longer term loan will see lower monthly payments, but at the end of the day when it’s all paid off, you’ve contributed more money to the bank’s pocket.

So while bills are going down, taxpayers are going to be left on the hook for more money when everything is all said and done. Hardly a money saver, is it?