Bob Chiarelli Ducks Ontario’s Electricity Questions

Energy Minister Chiarelli appeared as a guest November 28 on CBC’s Ontario Today with host Rita Celli. The result illustrates how the Ontario Liberals are trying to pivot around answering for the consequences of their electricity policies.

Check the right hand side of the screen under “Energy Minister explains why bills go up“. The interview starts at 2:08 into the clip.

Celli had interviewed me the previous day on the show on a segment called “How is the price of power affecting you?” During my interview and the following on-line chat, CBC received hundreds of calls and emails, many reporting serious hardship for households and employers caused by rising power rates.

Celli’s questioning of Chiarelli was dignified and reflective of the concerns expressed by her listeners the previous day. No other journalist has been as pointed, accurate and wide ranging in directly pinning down Chiarelli.

Chiarelli skates, tries to change the subject, contradicts himself, and even shows signs of losing confidence in his own tired talking points.

Here is a summary of their exchange. My notes are intended only to capture the gist of the exchange.

Rita: What’s up with the fixed part of the bill? Bob: Power rates increased years ago. We have invested $31 billion in the system.

Rita: When will the Debt Reduction Charge disappear? Bob: The PCs caused it and the target date for getting rid of the charge moves around a lot.

Rita: The commodity portion of bills increased 12% over the last year, how much will it increase by this time next year? Bob: “We have made very significant investments to eliminate dirty coal.”

Rita: What is up with that Ontario Clean Energy Benefit 10% discount, Don Drummond said was a dumb idea? Bob: “We have a bit of a heart.”, “In future, the increases will be minimized.”

Rita: What do you say to people who can’t pay their bills, how to they benefit? Bob: We have lots of programs to mitigate rates. People need to be better educated. “We are creating a number of other processes by which people will be able to get better control over their electricity rates.” We have cut capital spending by $20 billion.

Rita: You talk a big game about empowerment but who is empowered? Bob: We have a web site that explains your bill. We have lots of programs and “new tools”.

The strategy Mr. Chiarelli is pursuing was nicely analyzed in this radio essay presented by NPR last year.


  1. The interview is painful to listen to.

    And with respect to the interviewer and others, I think people should really consider the debt retirement charge to be a low priority. I mean at least it’s fixed…..0.7 cents/kWh or whatever it is.

    That 0.7 cents pales in comparison to the several cents increase in electricity commodity charges.

    What about the Minister’s claims of annualized (average) 3.4% increases since the Liberals have been in power? I suppose that might be true if you take into account the OCEB…but that’s a stupid program plain and simple to begin with. It’s not like there’s some separate magic pot of money to fund that with….taking of the right pocket and putting it into the left.

    I mean I can remember only a few years ago, prior to TOU, the standard RPP was what..say 5.6 cents or something for the lower tier per month…..our lowest tier TOU is now @ 7.2 cents. To talk as though this is a rational level of increase is simply unfathomable to me.

  2. WalesOnline, Nov.26, 2013
    “Number of winter deaths in Wales increases by half”
    Many older people in Wales have to choose between heating and eating. And causes increased demand on social services which has to be paid for by the taxpayers.
    Dosen’t appear anyone in the present Ontario government is even concerned about the hardships ever increasing Hydro bills will cause?

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