Seasonal cottagers stuck paying for hydro, even when they’re not using it

Hydro poles

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced cuts to hydro rates last week, but they won’t help cottagers much.

Although residential and small business hydro bills are expected to drop by 17 percent, the cuts won’t affect the fixed delivery charge, and that’s the part that many cottagers are fed up with.

For those who only use their cottages or camps at certain times of the year, delivery rates end up being more than the hydro itself.

“We maybe use $50 a month in hydro but we’re paying a $100 delivery charge,” Kevin Lawlor, a cottage owner southwest of Perth, told CBC News on Sunday.

In one widely publicized court case, a cottage owner was charged more than $1,000 in delivery charges for the nearly eight months that his Mazinaw Lake cottage was without power after a tree fell on some hydro lines.

Hydro One later defended the charges in court, saying that the monthly flat rate is assessed if the company’s equipment is still on the customer’s property. Ontario Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault told CTV that the cottage owner should have cancelled his service and returned Hydro One’s equipment to avoid the charges.

Because they’re not full-time residents, cottagers are also unable to take advantage of the Rural or Remote Rate Protection Program (RRRP), which offers year-round residents in “low density zones” an extra $60.50 off delivery.

For some, the only answer is to stay off the grid.

Claude Wistaff owns a cottage near Calabogie, Ontario. He told reporters that until something changes, he’s avoiding a hydro connection altogether, relying on candles and generators instead.