On February 13, 2017, the Ontario Minister of Energy sent an e-mail to every LDC (local distribution company) in the province, including our very own MPUC. The purpose of this email was to request that all LDC’s voluntarily discontinue their respective winter disconnection policies for all residential customers. On February 16th (just three days later), numerous Midland residents contacted us and asked our news team to inquire as to whether or not MPUC had responded to the minister’s email request.
Apparently (according to quite a few Midland residents) MPUC was still hand delivering pink disconnection notices at that time. This morning I took a little trip to the MPUC office on Highway 12 and asked to speak with someone in management regarding this matter. According to Christine Bell (CFO), they did receive the Minster’s email and responded by cancelling their winter disconnection policy for all of their residential customers, but unfortunately the pink notices had already been sent out.
She also informed me that MPUC would be installing power limiting devices on the meters of those customers who were in arrears, and had been issued “pink” notices with an impending disconnection date (usually 1 week from the date of notice) for failure to pay their bill.
A couple of hours later I was sitting at home in front of my computer writing this article, when I received an email from Mrs. Bell with an update to our conversation.
Apparently, while in the midst of the interview, legislation was being passed at Queens Park that was designed to put an end to all residential winter disconnects, as well as Friday disconnection during the warmer months. She informed me that the OEB (Ontario Energy Board) has forbidden MPUC from installing any devices to limit a customer’s power consumption while in arrears, and to immediately reconnect any and all residential customers who have had their electricity locked out.
So there you have it folks. As of today there will no longer be any Ontario residents going without power during the coldest time of the year! It appears that the Ontario Liberals are finally getting the message with regards to the exorbitant cost of our hydro bills! Now, if the Liberals would do something about the absolutely ridiculous delivery charges for hydro to rural residents, I may actually be impressed… Only time will tell I guess.
After the story went live, we received a follow-up from MPUC that stated:
“It is important to note Midland PUC uses disconnection as a very last resort.
Every effort is made to contact customers who are in arrears. Our policies include sending two letters by mail, contacting customers via telephone, making recommendations on conservation programs and as well some customers may be able to receive funding through our low income energy program.
As mentioned earlier, disconnection is used as a very last resort and although Midland PUC will not be disconnecting customers until after April 30, 2017, the hydro costs will still be owing at that time for all of the months customers have not paid. This can add up to a substantial amount. We urge any customer to contact Midland PUC so that we can make arrangements for payment of the monies owing.”
Cory Atkinson-Dalton – Co-Chair, Contributing Author