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1 Lower electric bill for poor urged on Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:30 am

grumpy old man


administrator
administrator
Hydro, chambers say PUB shouldn't set social policy

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
The issue:

Social justice advocates want Manitoba Hydro to create a low-income affordability program to help poor people pay their electricity bills.

Critics say that should be the business of government, not a utility.

They say if Hydro was ordered by the Public Utilities Board, which regulates Hydro, to create a two-tier rate system, rates would go up to subsidize low-income people.

The also say the PUB has no business setting social policy -- that's the job of government and elected politicians.
Manitoba Hydro is being asked to set up a new rate system that would help the poor cope with high electricity bills.

But Hydro and other critics of the plan say the Crown utility has no business deciding who's poor or not -- their only business is keeping the lights on and houses warm.

The matter is now before a Public Utilities Board panel as it hears testimony on Hydro's 2010-12 general rate application and its plans to build more northern dams to generate and export more hydroelectric power to the United States. Hydro is asking for a 2.9 per cent rate increase for 2011. The PUB already approved an interim 2010 rate hike of 2.8 per cent.

The issue of a low-income affordability program has largely flown under the radar in Manitoba but has already been addressed in many U.S. states and in Nova Scotia and Ontario.

"I don't think the Public Utilities Board should be placed in a position of having to decide public policy," said Graham Starmer, president of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce. "We'd rather have a legislated solution to this, not a decision by a semi-judicial, non-elected body."

Starmer appears before the PUB Monday.

The support for a low-income affordability program comes from Time to Respect Earth's Ecosystems (TREE) and the Green Action Centre, formerly Resource Conservation Manitoba. They are intervenors in the PUB hearing.

Spokesman Peter Miller said the groups have recruited Boston advocacy lawyer Roger Colton to argue their case here. Colton is regarded as an expert in low-income utility programs and has lobbied for these programs in the U.S. and Canada for about 25 years. He appears before the PUB in about two months.

"In the time I've been doing this, more than half the states have adopted low-income programs," Colton said. "They learn that the more affordable these services are, the more competitive the community is."

Colton said a low-income affordability program would help Hydro's bottom line, as part of its business is chasing down people who can't afford to pay their bills. Those resources could instead go towards a low-income program.

Miller said Hydro, perhaps with the input of the province, should set a six per cent cap on how much of its income a poor family spends on electricity.

Hydro spokesman Glenn Schneider said the utility is against such a plan because it believes low rates should be available to every household.

He said an assistance program is available through the Power Smart program to help low-income households insulate their homes and through a program, administered by the Salvation Army to help poor people pay their hydro bill. "Traditionally, looking after the needs of low-income people is the job of the government," Schneider said.

Starmer said the risk of PUB ordering Hydro to establish a low-income affordability program is that other assistance programs offered by the province could be cut.

He said the chambers of commerce has scheduled a meeting with Finance Minister Rosann Wowchuk and Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh to discuss tightening the The Public Utilities Board Act so the PUB doesn't veer into policy issues that should be the jurisdiction of the legislature.

Starmer said the legislation is unclear on how much the board, appointed by government, can take social policy considerations into account when setting rate increases.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 15, 2011 A4


_________________
Yes, I really am that Grumpy...

It's their, they're and there; in Canada it's colour, cheque, rumour and zed...

2 Re: Lower electric bill for poor urged on Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:34 am

grumpy old man


administrator
administrator
Here we go again. This is no different than the (artificially) low university tuition fees. We subsidize EVERYONE, including the majority that can afford it, ultimately penalizing everyone.

Charge standard rates to everyone. But make subsidies available to those that truly need help. Divorce the subsidy from the supplier. And keep the PUB out of this decision making process.

God help us if this province does not wake up and replace the current government...


_________________
Yes, I really am that Grumpy...

It's their, they're and there; in Canada it's colour, cheque, rumour and zed...

3 Re: Lower electric bill for poor urged on Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:18 pm

Guest


Guest
Imo, it is clear that the government is responsible for helping the poor and not a utility company.

4 Re: Lower electric bill for poor urged on Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:49 pm

Deank


contributor eminence
contributor eminence
Its pretty clear who is controlling PUB.

independent arm my a$$.


_________________
Why do we call them fingers if no one has ever seen them fing?

5 Re: Lower electric bill for poor urged on Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:24 pm

wpg_idiot


contributor
contributor
Why do the poor need help with their hydro? What's next? Help with water and sewer? Heating fuel? Telephone bills? Autopac? All this will create is another artificial crutch for government scammers and social scum to suck the public purse dry. Thank god for the bleeding hearts.

6 Re: Lower electric bill for poor urged on Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:14 pm

Northlands


contributor
contributor
No , no .. and no again. We don't need this. Besides, wouldn't poor people have less electricity sucking devices anyway? ( Logic says yes, but I know the answer is otherwise. ) " I can't afford clothes for my kid, but I gots me a 52" Plasma ".

/facepalm.

7 Re: Lower electric bill for poor urged on Sun Jan 16, 2011 12:19 pm

Guest


Guest
Actually, I'd rather see a couple of hundred grand of hydro money go towards helping the poor in this manner than the couple of hundred million that are being pissed away on Bipole lll.

But I'd also like to see much, much cheaper hydro rates for all Manitobans.....like next to free cheap. We can increase the rates we sell it for to make up the difference.

At the same time we would attract hydro-intensive industry to set up here in Manitoba with cheap rates as well.

8 Re: Lower electric bill for poor urged on Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:15 am

grumpy old man


administrator
administrator
Let's get this thread back on topic.

Cheap hydro rates for those that truly can't afford it is the right thing to do.

I just don't want Hydro making the decision. Nor do I want the PUB making that decision.

Let people apply for subsidies...



Last edited by grumpy old man on Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:16 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : This thread evolved into a socialist vs capitalist discussion and has been split.)


_________________
Yes, I really am that Grumpy...

It's their, they're and there; in Canada it's colour, cheque, rumour and zed...

9 Re: Lower electric bill for poor urged on Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:18 am

Deank


contributor eminence
contributor eminence
No. Not cheap rates.
Same rate for everyone.
People who cant afford it can apply for subsidies. Part of the subsidies is a review of you house hold energy use. ie... yeah you with the 60 inch TV? you dont qualify.


_________________
Why do we call them fingers if no one has ever seen them fing?

10 Re: Lower electric bill for poor urged on Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:45 am

AGEsAces


moderator
moderator
This is another crock of let's help the useless and punish the rest.

We do LOTS of work for Manitoba Housing.
Their Hydro is included in their rent (in most cases), and their rent is RIDICULOUSLY low.

Hell, there are some places we've worked, where I've actually been tempted to sell my home and move in...they had more square footage in their apartment than my whole house...and the cost was about 1/3 what we pay now.

IF...Hydro is going to even consider something like this...it MUST have some sort of control in place limiting the amount of power and what types of devices/electronics the home would be allowed to have.

It's bad enough my tax dollars go to pay for the deadbeat's rent, cable, etc...but I KNOW they also have game systems, computers, tv's & stereos that I can't afford...and I don't care if they go them as a gift from someone...they should be required to sell it to pay their rent!!!

http://www.photage.ca

11 Re: Lower electric bill for poor urged on Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:48 am

Deank


contributor eminence
contributor eminence
no no.. even that not the bad one.

The bad one is they have the heat cranked and the FRICKEN UPSTAIRS WINDOW OPEN BECAUSE ITS TO HOT UPSTAIRS..

holy frick that one pisses me off.


_________________
Why do we call them fingers if no one has ever seen them fing?

12 Re: Lower electric bill for poor urged on Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:51 am

AGEsAces


moderator
moderator
heat is almost ALWAYS included with their rent though

http://www.photage.ca

13 Re: Lower electric bill for poor urged on Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:01 am

Deank


contributor eminence
contributor eminence
yeah I know.. thats part of the problem.

It really ticked me off when I was living in MB housing that I would take the time to seal all the windows in winter and even put bales around the foundation the one year.... and watch all my neighbours with their upstairs window open wide because they would not simply invest in a fan to more evenly distribute the heat.


_________________
Why do we call them fingers if no one has ever seen them fing?

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