London Hydro: No more free rides
Broke students may soon be left out in the cold literally as hydro companies across Ontario prepare to disconnect power to customers who have not paid their bill.
"They have to pay now," said Nancy Hutton, a spokesperson for London Hydro, noting 3,000 customers in the London area will face a loss of power in the next couple of weeks.
According to Dan Miles, press secretary for Ontario Energy Minister John Baird, many delinquent customers are only facing a loss of power now, because the Ontario government maintained a moratorium on disconnections from December through March.
"We make no apologies for doing that. We were ensuring that no one would freeze over the cold winter months," Miles said.
"There [was a price] increase when the market was open to privatization," Hutton said, noting this may be the reason many people have been unable to make their bill payments.
"There is no question that, when the market opened in May 2002, we saw some price volatility, but the government moved quickly in November to stabilize prices," Miles explained.
Miles said the provincial government provided financial relief through a $75 rebate cheque for its customers and froze hydro prices at 4.3 cents per kilowatt hour. This is the same rate that existed before the market was privatized, in order to compensate for soaring bill rates, he said.
Miles also emphasized that customers should try to negotiate repayment with their energy providers.
"The customers must contact us to make permanent arrangements," Hutton said, in regards to those individuals who may be struggling to meet their Hydro payments.
"My house got a call saying our hydro would be cut off if we didn't pay $1,200," said Alex Leduc, a second-year geology student at Western. "Cutting off someone's hydro is different than cutting off someone's Internet."