Ontario’s Power Rates Not the Highest in North America

Hydro Quebec’s annual electricity survey is a nearly perfect method to compare residential power rates across the provinces in Canada. Unfortunately, Hydro Quebec’s survey is a poor guide to how Canadian rates compare to US rates because the survey cherry picks a handful of relatively small jurisdictions, most of which have outlier high rates. Hydro Quebec’s survey is also a poor guide to industrial rates in Ontario and Alberta.

Toronto Hydro’s rates are the closest easily available measure for measuring the weighted average rates in Ontario.

As Hydro Quebec’s 2016 report notes, by April 1, 2016, Ontario’s residential power rates were the highest in Canada. Since that time, rates in Ontario have increased for most customers a further 3%.

The US Energy Information Administration publishes updated weighted average power rates by customer class for all US states. I have previously argued for something similar in Canada.

The recent decline in the Canadian dollar has narrowed the gap between Ontario and US rates, off-set somewhat by the continued escalation of Ontario rates while US rates have moved very little.

The attached chart documents some Ontario residential rates relative as of November 1, 2016 relative to US rates by state averaged over 2015. Since US rates are stable, this measure is a reasonable approximation of how Ontario ranks right now.

Toronto Hydro’s rates are 13% above the average for the contiguous US, exceeded by 10 US states. Hydro One’s low-density rate, which is Ontario’s highest for grid-connected consumers, is 45% above the US average and exceeded by five states, CT, MA, RI, NY and NH.

Another noteworthy observation is that notwithstanding Hydro One’s inefficiencies, the H1 urban rate is lower than Toronto Hydro’s, which has a very great inherent density advantage.

Last week in a radio all-candidates debate in the Niagara West Glanbrook hosted by Tom McConnell at CKTB AM 610 in St. Catharines, the Liberal candidate, Vicky Ringuette, repeated the government’s claim that Ontario rates are in the “middle of the pack”. You can pick up the podcast here.

Here is a supporting spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1m8j6bj0bKKikp95k3a_y0BaNDZHgBF61jlX8gdNPX0w/pub?output=pdf

5 Comments

  1. Hi Tom,

    I can’t open the spreadsheet (ontario-vs-contiguous-us-power-rate-comparison). Care to explain how to open it so that I can review the rates?

    This discussion is purely academic because in ON the surging hydro prices since corrupt McGuinty & Wynne came into office have exceeded inflationary growth, becoming one of the biggest expenditures of family, & eliminating any disposable income people had to spend for themselves.

    It is more egregious when people have to wait until 7 am irrespective of early winter nights until least-expensive power rates kick in. Since liberals have always meddled with OEB & energy plans, why can’t they direct the spineless OEB to adjust time-of-use (TOU) hours according to the season or simply get rid of TOU rates and let people use power here instead of selling surplus power to US states?

    I would like to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

  2. Tom…As always, a public service…Merci…The story in Ontario is disturbing, to say the least…But critics need to get the facts right…I’m heartened to know that Ontario doesn’t finish #1 in the “Worst” category, but we’re close to the worst, and that should concern everybody…If only because it was so $#@)& avoidable!…Jon

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