Some area residents have received quite a shock at seeing a huge increase when opening their recent hydro bill.
The Chatham Daily News put a call out on Facebook on Friday to get an indication of what kind hike in electricity bills some people have had.
While some people have only seen a minor increase – or not at all – several others have experienced sticker shock.
“Mine went from $310 to $566,” said one woman. “I want to cry.”
Another man saw his bill go to $350 from $180.
“Not right at all,” he said.
Another person saw their household bill jump to $278 in January from $163 in December, prompting the declaration: “Hydro rates in Ontario are disgusting.”
A post from one person stated their bill climbed by 45% even with a strict conservation plan in place.
“We are getting screwed . . .” the post included.
According to Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton, the situation is only going to get worse.
“According the government's own long-term energy plan, hydro bills are set to increase by almost 45% by 2018,” he said.
“There's serious concerns that the cost of home ownership and running a small business is becoming unaffordable in Ontario,” McNaughton said, adding rising energy costs and property taxes are the two leading factors.
He said the origins of the current situation can be traced back to former Liberal leader and then-Premier Dalton McGuinty signing “enormous, outrageous renewable energy contracts.”
He said over the next 20 years the wind turbine projects that are already built, as well as the projects on the books, will cost $60-billion. He added these wind projects are only producing 4% of Ontario's overall electricity needs.
“It's been completely mismanaged, these contracts are too expensive and ratepayers are picking up the bill,” McNaughton said.
One impact on hydro bills is the provincial government's decision to scrap a more than $1-billion subsidy that was brought in to help consumers absorb the cost of green energy.
Liberals also plan to introduce a cap-and-trade plan in the spring, which is also expected cause bills to rise.
Electricity prices in Ontario have increased nearly 375% under the Liberals from 2004 when the cost of hydro was a flat 4.7 cents per-kilowatt hour to the Nov. 1, 2015 rate of 17.5 kwh at peak times.
McNaughton said this past September he was at a grocery store in his riding where the monthly hydro bill had hit $10,000, which was an increase of $2,000 for the same period from the year before.
He also visited a grocery store in the Greater Toronto Area last fall and was told for first time, the store's hydro bill hit $100,000 for a month.
McNaughton said independent business operators are facing a huge challenge because it's difficult to raise prices in such a competitive environment.
He said “career Liberal politicians” are making decisions in a bubble and not realizing the impact they are having on the senior citizen in Chatham or Dresden or the area farmer.