When paying your hydro bill becomes difficult

Bill Mauro Kenora Queen's Park - NAN Sarah Campbell

Sarah Campbell-MPP

Kenora – Leaders Ledger – From Queen’s Park – In recent years, hydro prices have unnecessarily spiraled out of control as a result of irresponsible government decisions. Since being elected I have pushed, and continue to fight for, significant changes that will once again make this essential service affordable for families, seniors and businesses in the north.

Hydro Prices Spiral Out of Control

I will continue to raise this important issue with Premier Wynne, who has not yet given a clear indication if it will be a priority for her government.

[sws_pullquote_right]What you can do when paying your hydro bill becomes difficult [/sws_pullquote_right]

As with any legislative change, formal action will take time and it is for that reason I want to provide an overview of some of the steps you can take and the services my office provides if you find yourself falling behind on your hydro bill or struggling to pay a hefty security deposit. 

In all cases, it is important to remember that while the decision to work out a payment plan or to reduce security deposits is solely at the discretion of the electricity company, there are many steps you can take to help increase the chances of success and get back on track.  

The first, and most important, step is acting in good faith. If you are going to be late or miss a payment, call the company to let them know. Explain the circumstances that have led to the current problems and be open to suggestions they may have that can help alleviate the situation. If you are unable to pay in full, pay something, even if it’s just $20 or $50. This shows good faith on your part and will often be used to determine if the company will show good faith to you. 

In addition to showing good faith, you should not wait until you receive a disconnection notice to contact the company or my office. Never assume that the utility cannot cut you off in the winter months – that prohibition expired in March of 2003. Acting before you receive a disconnection notice shows that you are serious about fixing the problem, whether it’s talking to the company or my office. We can sometimes prevent an imminent disconnection, but those situations are rare and almost impossible if a customer has not acted in good faith before the disconnection notice was sent out. 

If you are in a situation where you have to enter into a payment plan or make arrangements with the company for payment in full, never commit to something you cannot live up to – it is rare for any company to give second chance, let alone third and fourth chances. The worst thing you can do at that point is to make payment arrangements and not honour them. 

While there are some programs in place that can assist individuals who have fallen behind on their bills, access to these programs is very limited and difficult to obtain, with some funds only being available for one or two months before their annual budgets are exhausted. 

As always, the best option is to act early and make the right decisions before a problem spirals out of control, and never hesitate to contact my office for assistance.

 Sarah Campbell MPP

Kenora-Rainy River

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Sarah Campbell is a Canadian politician, who was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in the 2011 election. She represents the electoral district of Kenora—Rainy River as a member of the Ontario New Democratic Party caucus