Horwath tables bill to protect families from pre-pay hydro meters

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is introducing a new law to ban pre-pay hydro meters, protecting people from having the electricity cut off if they don’t feed the meter.


“When it comes to hydro bills, Kathleen Wynne has brought us one disappointment after another, from the sell-off of Hydro One to her $40-billion borrowing scheme that will send hydro bills soaring after the election,” said Horwath. “Now, the privatized Hydro One has applied for the power to install pre-pay hydro meters on people’s homes and small businesses.


“That means that families, seniors and businesses will have to keep the meter fed, or lose their power automatically.”


That plan was quietly inserted into Hydro One’s distribution rate application for 2018 to 2022. It would give the company power to replace smart meters with pre-pay meters. The Liberal government has been defending that move, despite the experience of other countries like the United Kingdom, which banned pre-pay water meters 20 years ago.


“This is what privatization looks like,” said Horwath. “Seniors living on small pensions resorting to candles and blankets when they can’t afford more credits. Parents telling their kids they can’t afford to keep the lights on. It has to be stopped.”


Horwath is concerned that the new meters would skirt the ban on winter-time disconnections, since they cut off electricity automatically if the meter isn’t fed by buying credits at a corner shop or online.


“Kathleen Wynne and Hydro One’s solution for high hydro bills is to make folks pay up-front to ensure the company comes out on top. My solution is to lower hydro bills so families can actually afford them.”


The NDP’s Protecting Hydro Consumers Act, prohibiting distributors from installing pre-pay meters anywhere in Ontario, is in addition to Horwath’s plan to cut hydro bills down by about 30 per cent for all homes and businesses, ending mandatory time of use pricing and bringing Hydro One back into public hands.


Patrick Brown and the Conservatives are offering no change for hydro. According to Brown’s platform, the Conservatives will keep Kathleen Wynne’s privatization, and her $40 billion dollar borrowing scheme, and send hydro costs soaring after the election. On Nov. 30, Brown’s Conservatives voted with the Wynne government to block an NDP motion to start bringing Hydro One back into public ownership.

Andrea Horwath