The NG Times Newspaper

A startup in Kitchener, Ontario has created an online tool where anyone can see a breakdown of their hydro bill. has a calculator where you plug in whether you are a residential or commercial operation, your utility provider (Hydro One etc.) and your average monthly usage and it breaks down the bill based on rates and data from the Ontario Energy Board website.
Tomas Van Stee is the owner of the company Enpowered, which is behind the development of the tool. As a company, they help small businesses reduce their hydro rates by creating larger buying groups to tap into the pricing offered to larger entities.
Tomas says they originally built the platform to help their customers who were confused about what was going on in their bills. “Once we had it built a couple of our customers said we should make it public,” he says. Tomas says the tool is useful because it shows consumers what percentage of their bill is going directly towards electricity costs and what is going towards other government fees, specifically something called the Global Adjustment rate. According to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), who sets this rate, the fee covers the cost of providing adequate generating capacity and conservation programs for Ontario.
Basically, this means that it pays the difference between the market cost of electricity (which is about 2 cents per kwh) and the amount that has been promised to the electricity generators, particularly renewable power sources like wind, solar, nuclear and natural gas. This amount is often quite a bit higher than market price. “If I have a solar panel on my roof and I sign a contract with the government that guarantees me 60 cents per kWh, the global adjustment covers the difference,” Tomas explains. According to an article in the Toronto Star, the province paid privately owned generators up to 39.6 cents per kWh for solar power when the market value was only at 2.6 cents in 2013.
For the 12-month period ending in October, 2017, the Global Adjustment is estimated to represent 8.45 cents out of every unit cost of electricity for residential homeowners. “For a typical consumer, consuming 750 kWh of electricity a month, global adjustment charges represent about $67, or about half of a typical consumer’s current bill,” says Lars Hansen, a representative from the Ontario Energy Board.
This figure lines up with what is shown by Tomas’ application. It estimates that for a residential homeowner using 750 kWh of electricity a month, the Global Adjustment Fee encompasses 59% of the total bill. Around 5% goes towards actual electricity costs and about 36% is taken by the utility. “When people use this tool, they are surprised how little goes to their utility,” Tomas says. “That’s not the reason your bill is going up. It’s the remainder that is at question here.”
There is also the issue that, when another province or country buys power from Ontario, they are only paying the market value, leaving Ontario at a deficit. Tomas admits that the reason the Global Adjustment Rate has been steadily increasing is well-meaning. “We wanted to bring more renewable energies into the structure.” Regardless, with high hydro rates causing energy poverty in Ontario, it is something that needs to be looked at. Tomas says some politicians are actively working on it, which is a positive step. MPPs in Queens Park met last week to discuss hydro costs and Premier Kathleen Wynne says she will be focusing on the Global Adjustment specifically. “I think it’s important that we make sure that they don’t just wave some hands and move some pieces,” Tomas says. “We actually have to make sure we are aware, as a voting population, what is the key issue, which is the Global Adjustment, and make sure the government actually does something about it.”


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