Business hit with massive hydro bill after smart meter installed
Published Friday, April 25, 2014 6:04PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 25, 2014 6:47PM EDT
A small business owner west of London will have to pay more to find out if the smart meter installed before his hydro bills skyrocketed is faulty.
Gil Lanuza operates the Kilworth Variety and Gas Bar. In December 2013, he realized he hadn't received a Hydro One bill for the last five months.
When he inquired he received a bill that far exceeded his expectations, Lanuza says, "For five months, I got $10,438, which shocked me!"
That was the total of the bill he received in Februrary. But for all of 2012 his bill was just over $13,000.
Lanuza blames the smart meter he was required to install, even though according to Hydro One "Sample testing of thousands of meters in the past six years has shown the meters to be 99.9 percent accurate."
After contacting the company, Lanuza received a letter saying his meter was one of the faulty ones that needed to be replaced, but there was no mistake on his bill.
But Lanuza says "If I have a meter that there is a problem with that meter, how can I rely on that meter?!...And it has a problem, but they never told me what the problem is...they say it's safety."
Hydro One has admitted that smart meters have caused some over-billing, but the onus is on the customer to prove that they have been overbilled.
Lanuza has been told he will have to pay for the removal of his meter and the installation of a new one, if he wants his curret one tested for accuracy.
"The meter was installed and supplied by [Hydro One], why should I be paying for the cost of checking it?"
He has now spoken with a lawyer to try to get the situation resolved.
But in the meantime he's agreed to pay the bill in monthly installements, for fear of having his hydro cut off.
"I have no other choice. I have to go for it, it's not the money, it's the principle," he says.
His lawyer has drafted a letter of complaint to the indepent body Measurements Canada to challenge the accuracy of the meter.
Hydro One has told Lanuza that if he was in fact overbilled he will receive a full refund and be paid back the costs of having his meter removed and re-installed.
Hydro costs continue to climb for businesses
As the cost of hydro rises in Ontario - it is predicted to climb another 46 per cent over the next 10 years - business owners say they are not sure if they can stay in the province.
Martin Vogt owns EFS-plastics, a plastic re-processing facility in Listowel. He says his hydro bill has doubled in five years and now sits at $80,000 a month.
He says they pay $350,000 more per year for power than similar plants in Quebec or New York.
The Ontario PCs blame the Green Energy Act for pushing up prices. MPP Lisa MacLeod, PC Energy Critic, points at the massive subsidies for wind and solar power.
But those in the business of producing wind power say while the higher cost of green energy will eventually go down and stabilize, the cost of nuclear and other sources of energy are likely to go up.