Volume 93, Issue 74

Thursday, February 10, 2000


NEWS

City questions anti-Semitic behaviour

Controversial photo gets pulled

Women still reaching for the top

Study finds home can make a good hospital

Hydro deregulation to push the industry

Newspaper challenges YOA

Briefs

Stuff

Caught on campus

Hydro deregulation to push the industry



By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

Deciding which electricity company powers your house may become a little harder when the provincial government deregulates the electricity market this November.

Mike Krizanc, communications officer for the Ministry of Energy, said Ontario's electricity consumers should prepare for a potential onslaught of independent providers to appear on the scene once the industry becomes deregulated.

In a move which began with 1998 legislation to open the electricity provider floodgates, the Ministry has been touting the decision as a future creator of both jobs and a greener environment, Krizanc said. He explained once the government deregulates the industry, hydro companies will have the authority to set their own prices for services.

Krizanc said the Ministry is taking every step to assure a smooth transition by putting consumers' fate in their own hands. "There's nothing that forces electricity customers to change [providers] at all," he said, adding electricity marketers will need to be licensed by the Ontario Energy Board before they can acquire any customers.

"People need to keep in mind the prices for electricity are unknown because the market isn't open. We don't know what the prices will be," said Nancy Hutton, manager of sales and marketing for London Hydro.

She explained there was no pressure to sign on with an independent marketing organization since customers would simply stay on track with London Hydro if they decided not to switch.

Krizanc said the Ministry will begin an education campaign later this month with radio and newspaper advertisements to make consumers aware of the situation.

He said the deregulation would create jobs by enticing businesses from across the country and beyond to set up shop in Ontario.

"If we keep prices competitive, we will maintain jobs and become more attractive than some of our neighbours," he said, adding marketers would also be required to report how much pollution was released in the creation of the electricity.

"The amount of pollution generated will be on the bill, so people who feel strongly about this will be able to choose green energy," he said.

Gary Williams, councillor for London's Ward 5 and chair of the environmental and transportation committee, said he found the "green" aspect of the new billing a positive one for consumers, but was waiting until November to see if the initiative would take flight.

"I think any report or comparison that can be produced for consumers from an independent source would be a bonus, but it's very difficult to get information on these sorts of things – to get an apples to apples comparison."

Krizanc said since there would still be only one set of wires running through the various municipalities, if they decided to amalgamate and charge less in distribution fees, increased savings could be implemented.

But Williams said thus far, London's city council has not given the idea much thought and would wait for the deregulation to take full effect before exploring the option further.


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Copyright The Gazette 2000