The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) this week issued a precedent-setting ruling against an application by Toronto Hydro to charge electricity ratepayers $45 million to pay for conservation and demand management programs many of which it found duplicated those of the Ontario Power Authority (OPA).
The Consumers Council of Canada had argued before the OEB that Toronto Hydro’s request was contrary to Ontario government requirements that local electricity distribution companies and the OPA avoid duplicating their programs.
“The OEB ruling is a positive step to ensure money spent on conservation is used efficiently and effectively,” said Consumers Council of Canada President Don Mercer. “The ruling sets an important precedent, as other local electricity distribution companies move ahead with their demand management and conservation plans.”
The Ontario Energy Board regulates the province’s electricity and natural gas sectors in the public interest. OPA has operating responsibility for ensuring Ontario has a reliable, cost-effective and sustainable electricity system.
Robert Warren, the Council’s lawyer, said the decision shows the value of the OEB.
“The board has found that Toronto Hydro was proposing to waste $45 million of its ratepayers’ money on unnecessary conservation programs,” he said. “The board has found that Toronto Hydro and the OPA are not doing their jobs in ensuring that ratepayers’ money is being prudently spent.”
Among other programs, Toronto Hydro sought money to incent homeowners who now pay a flat rate for their water heaters to give up the privilege. The OEB disallowed this, saying Toronto Hydro can terminate the flat rate program on its own, without offering incentives paid for by other customers.
The OEB also disallowed a $20-million program to curb power use in apartment and condo buildings, saying it was untested and not fully justified.
And it sharply scaled back an $11.5 million program to reward small- and medium-sized businesses who install a device that allows Toronto Hydro to power down air conditioning systems for brief periods when demand strains the system.