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If you live in Ontario, deciphering your electricity bill is like trying to crack the encryption on a BlackBerry. It might tax even the professional snoopers at the U.S. National Security Agency.
It’s not as simple as multiplying the amount of power you use each month by the market price per kilowatt-hour. Beyond your “electricity” charge, there’s a “delivery” charge, a “regulatory” charge, a “debt retirement” charge and an Orwellian-sounding “clean energy benefit.”
And there’s a twisted political saga behind each one of them. If you manage to unbundle it all, you’ll discover that the market value of the power you consume accounts for only a tiny portion of your bill. Most of the rest of what you fork out goes to pay for decades of bungled energy policy-making. And pay you will, for years to come.
Indeed, the most important charge is the one that doesn’t directly appear on most people’s monthly statements. It’s called the “global adjustment” fee and it’s tacked on to your electricity charge to cover the government’s cost of buying above-market-priced wind, solar, nuclear and gas-fired power from private operators. Oh, and part of it now goes to pay for those Toronto-area gas plants former premier Dalton McGuinty cancelled to win NIMBY votes in the 2011 election.
Ontario has managed to subvert the basic laws of supply and demand. Electricity has never been so abundant, yet Ontarians have never paid so much for it. Thousands of megawatts of new wind, solar and natural-gas generation has driven market prices to lows not seen in decades. But the cushy contracts awarded to wind and solar producers mean your monthly bill is going up.
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