Electric Over-Billing Confirmed In Canada as Smart Meters Are Not So Smart
Hydro One says it has fixed the problems that plagued its billing system and malfunctioning smart meters.
It was a year ago that the Ontario Ombudsman started an investigation into complaints from Hydro One customers about inexplicable bills and strange smart meter readings.
Six hundred complaints have mushroomed to 9,700 complaints now.
People like Madeleine Fex-Tinkus in Sudbury received several bills at a time, and had money taken out of their accounts without permission.
Others didn't receive bills for many months at a time.
Hydro One has taken a new approach to pesky smart meters that refuse to send a reliable signal about electricity consumption in rural Ontario.
Give up on them.
The utility, which was ordered by its provincial masters to install the devices, admits it has decided to manually read roughly 36,000 meters instead of counting on the wireless technology.
“Astonishing,” was the reaction from Lanark-area MPP Randy Hillier, who has been deluged with complaints about Hydro One billing and smart-meter suspicions.
“I’ve been banging my head against the wall for the last five years, saying we’ve got problems with smart meters in rural Ontario.” Since first being elected in 2007, no single issue has attracted as much attention in his riding, he said.
One of the main complaints, Hillier explained, is that the terrain in rural Ontario is such that the wireless meters — which send out a continuous signal to permit time-of-use billing — frequently fail. Turns out it’s absolutely true.
“The evidence has been in front of us for a long time. It doesn’t work, it hasn’t worked and now (there’s) an admission that it will never work.”
When Hydro moved to a new billing system, it was buried with complaints, numbering in the tens of thousands. Some customers were double and tripled bills; some had no bills for months; others were comically billed millions in overcharges.
When Ontario’s ombudsman stepped in, the office of André Marin was flooded with more than 10,000 complaints. Hydro admitted its errors, even sending about a million letters of apology to its customers.
The introduction of smart meters to Ontario, mandated by the Liberal government at a cost of about $2 billion, created peak and off-peak rates that were to spark a conservation drive across the province. The results have been disappointing.
HYDRO ONE’S SHOCKING BILLS:
- A ski club received a $37,000 bill in error, complained and was sent a $36.7-million bill.
- Sudbury man sent $19,152 bill in April 2014, after four-month delay to update system after meter replacement. After actual readings viewed, his bill was $74.
- King Township woman, 84, whose average monthly bill was $200, stopped getting bills, then three bills covering the same time period arrived in one month, demanding $9,000 each. Her actual bill? $640.
- An Inglewood man expected a final bill for a sold property to be under $100. He received a letter from a collections company on behalf of Hydro One saying he owed $18,000. He actually owed $56.35.
- A Matheson man, after getting no Hydro One bills in the summer of 2013, was hit by six estimated bills and then the utility withdrew $1,959 from his bank account unexpectedly. Actual bill was $144.
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