Hydro rates goes up by 3%

By:  Business reporter, Published on Thu Oct 17 2013

Ontario consumers will face higher hydro bills starting Nov. 1 — with the sharpest percentage increase coming during off-peak hours.

Time of use electricity rates, which are now paid by most consumers and small businesses, are due to rise by 0.5 cents a kilowatt hour for all time periods, the Ontario Energy Board announced Thursday.

The increase affects only the energy portion of the bill; consumers pay additional charges for delivery and debt retirement, plus a fixed monthly amount.

Those who pay time-of-use rates will pay about 3 per cent more for electricity on their total bill — or $4 a month on a monthly hydro bill of 800 kilowatt hours, according to the energy board.

Consumers who buy power from energy retailers at a fixed price won’t be affected by the new prices, which will be in effect for six months.

The new price for peak power will be 12.9 cents a kilowatt hour; for mid-peak, 10.9 cents a kilowatt hour; and for off-peak, 7.2 cents a kilowatt hour.

In percentage terms, the off-peak power price jumps 7.5 per cent, while the peak price rises only 4 per cent, and mid-peak 4.8 per cent.

The board said the new prices are being driven by “more generation from sources including renewables, along with a higher market price for natural gas.”

Gas and renewables are set to play a bigger role in Ontario’s power market, as the last coal plants shut down. The province has decided not to build new nuclear reactors.

The new rates continue to shrink the gap between peak and off-peak prices.

Five years ago, the peak price was more than three times the off-peak price; today, it’s less than twice the off-peak price.

Peter Tabuns, energy critic for the New Democratic Party, said the new prices reduce the incentive for people to consume less during the peak.

“That seems to be contrary to everything they’ve been saying in the past,” he said in an interview.

“So everyone who’s switched to doing their laundry in the middle of the night is going to be paying more than they would have.

“The other thing that struck me is that the increase in the cost of electricity is an awful lot more than the rate of inflation,” he added, saying the government should do more to promote conservation.

Time of use pricing is meant to discourage short, sharp peaks in demand. To supply those peaks, the power system has to build expensive plants that operate only a few hours a day, and only during part of the year.

Conservative critic Lisa MacLeod linked the latest price increase with the cost of moving unpopular gas-fired plants out of Oakville and Mississauga, estimated by the provincial auditor-general to be $1.1 billion.

“The way this government’s mismanaged energy, someone’s got to pay for it and unfortunately they’re going to have the say: It’s the ratepayer,” she said. “There’s no way to recover this money from the Liberal Party of Ontario.”

Energy minister Bob Chiarelli avoided any direct comment when asked about the new prices.

“Since 2003, the Ontario government has made smart, strategic investments in both transmission and generation infrastructure to bring us into a healthy supply situation in order to power our homes, farms and businesses,” he said in a statement.

An official in his office said prices are tracking lower than those predicted by the Liberals’ long-term energy plan released in 2010.

Julie Girvan of the Consumers Council of Canada said in an interview she’d like to see more clarity from the energy board about the impact that time of use pricing has had on consumer behaviour and on hydro bills.

Energy board spokesman Alan Findlay said that the board has been gathering data about the impact, and will be releasing a report by the end of the year.

In setting rates, “the approach is to match the costs of supply with the appropriate time period they’re used,” he said.

The energy board says most consumers use 64 per cent of their power during off-peak hours. During the winter months, off-peak hours are all day on weekends and holidays, and on weekdays from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Peak periods are weekdays from 7 to 11 a.m., and 5 to 7 p.m.

UK – Tripling in foodbank usage

Tripling in foodbank usage

 

Local food bank drive, doesn’t make it.

The Owen Sound Salvation Army’s annual Thanksgiving Food Drive has seen an “unprecedented” drop in the amount of food collected this year.

During the drive, which wrapped up Monday, under 10,000 pounds of food was collected, well below the organization’s goal of 28,000 pounds.

“It is probably an unprecedented drop for us,” Alice Wannan, the Owen Sound Salvation Army’s community and family services co-ordinator, said Tuesday morning. “Our goal was 28,000 and as of this morning we have hit 9,239.”

Wannan said the final numbers from the drive had been tallied up Tuesday morning and there were not yet any plans on how the Salvation Army intends to make up the shortfall.

Update here

As of Tuesday morning, Wannan says the Food Bank tallied only 9239 pounds of food.

The money collected from the kettle drive came in at $6979.13 —  which equates to approximately 2791 pounds of food.

Dealing with the cost of utilities in Bruce Grey_a new report

15 October 2013

A recent report by Bruce and Grey Counties summarizes the changes in job security and the impact of the rising cost of utilities.

It is estimated that about 1 in 3 Canadians live pay cheque to pay cheque and support service agencies in Bruce and Grey Counties find that most of the people they serve fall into this category. This means that a sudden change in a household’s situation, such as job loss, sickness or family break-up, can easily lead to housing affordability issues, including utility arrears.

Poverty is a root cause for this precarious position and the rising cost of utilities is yet one more issue that households in poverty have to cope with.

In Bruce and Grey Counties, the face of poverty is changing – service providers are starting to see seniors who are facing challenges and this was not the case in the past. While many seniors no longer have a mortgage on their home, many have modest, fixed incomes that are no longer sufficient to cover the rising costs of maintaining their homes, including utilities. Some seniors are particularly affected and anecdotal accounts have reported seniors going to bed in snow suits, using barbeques in their kitchens or reducing food purchases as a way to cope with utility costs. Many people refuse to ask for help with their utilities until the situation is quite dire, which in turn requires more community resources to resolve.

Recent data on service inquiries underscore the growing impact of utility issues. Community Connection/Ontario 211 receives calls and provides information on the services available in local communities. In 2012, the agency received a total of 2,401 call related to housing need from Grey County residents. Of these, 79% (1,895 calls) were related to utility arrears. Similarly, the agency received a total of 1,060 calls from Bruce County residents and 86% (919 calls) were related to utility arrears.

The issue of utility arrears affects the whole community and addressing it requires the collaboration of multiple stakeholders, including support service agencies, governments, utility providers and the clients themselves. Workshop participants proposed a number of solutions to help address the issue of utility arrears in Bruce and Grey Counties. The challenge ahead is how to advance possible solutions and make progress in alleviating utility arrears issues.

As part of the workshop, participants suggested possible next steps, including:
• Continue to meet on this issue and engage other stakeholders, such as the Legal Clinic and Poverty Task Force
• Increase political awareness on the issue
• Undertake educational activities for clients, including workshops and developing educational material
• Advocate for additional LEAP and CHPI funding
• Fundraise in the community

See the full report: Utilities Workshop – What We Heard Utility Workshop FINAL October 3, 2013

The Empowerment Plan

This story about an amazing young social entrepreneur who is changing the lives of homeless people in Detroit is wonderful inspiration to encourage everyone to take action on behalf of the over 600,000 people who experience homelessness on any given night in the United States.

Veronika Scott was a fashion student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit when her teacher, Stephen Schock, challenged her class to create a product that filled a need, rather than satisfying or creating a fad. Veronika’s design was a coat for homeless people that could transform into a sleeping bag, since in her city, she says, “you are constantly faced with the homeless epidemic.”

Not only did her design win a 2011 International Design Excellence Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America, it’s now become the core of Veronika’s nonprofit organization, The Empowerment Plan, which hires people from homeless shelters and transition homes to help her make the coats.

Veronika originally designed the coats seeking input from people at a homeless shelter. After receiving feedback from people who used the prototype over a Detroit winter, she refined the design to create her final version which, in addition to being a waterproof and windproof coat and sleeping bag, also transforms into an over-the-shoulder bag with storage in the arm sockets.

By year’s end, Veronika and her employees at The Empowerment Plan hope to make 600 coats a month to be distributed free of charge to people living on the streets. That’s twice as many as they currently make but the 23-year-old social entrepreneur knows her employees are up to the challenge.

“Everybody told me that my business was going to fail — not because of who I was giving my product to but because of who I was hiring,” Veronika shared. “They said that these homeless women will never make more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich — you cannot rely on them for anything. And I know my ladies enjoy proving everybody wrong.”

Veronika is also planning to open a sister, for-profit company to sell the coats: after presenting it at Aspen Fashion Week a year ago, people have been asking to buy them as a fashion item. She hopes that the for-profit company (which will also hire employees from shelters and transition homes) will help support their charitable work.

Veronika would also like to show other clothing producers that local manufacturing is possible; as she states, “I think we’re going to show a lot of people: you think it’s outdated to do manufacturing in your neighborhood, but I think it’s something that we have to do in the future, where it’s sustainable, where you invest in people, where they’re not interchangeable parts.”

You can read more about Veronika’s organization on PBS athttp://tinyurl.com/pyk8xmc

or watch a short video about her work athttp://tinyurl.com/qbe5oeq

 

To learn more about The Empowerment Plan or how you can support their work, visit http://www.empowermentplan.org/

 
This story about an amazing young social entrepreneur who is changing the lives of homeless people in Detroit is wonderful inspiration to encourage everyone to take action on behalf of the over 600,000 people who experience homelessness on any given night in the United States. </p>
<p>Veronika Scott was a fashion student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit when her teacher, Stephen Schock, challenged her class to create a product that filled a need, rather than satisfying or creating a fad. Veronika's design was a coat for homeless people that could transform into a sleeping bag, since in her city, she says, “you are constantly faced with the homeless epidemic." </p>
<p>Not only did her design win a 2011 International Design Excellence Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America, it’s now become the core of Veronika's nonprofit organization, The Empowerment Plan, which hires people from homeless shelters and transition homes to help her make the coats.</p>
<p>Veronika originally designed the coats seeking input from people at a homeless shelter. After receiving feedback from people who used the prototype over a Detroit winter, she refined the design to create her final version which, in addition to being a waterproof and windproof coat and sleeping bag, also transforms into an over-the-shoulder bag with storage in the arm sockets. </p>
<p>By year's end, Veronika and her employees at The Empowerment Plan hope to make 600 coats a month to be distributed free of charge to people living on the streets. That’s twice as many as they currently make but the 23-year-old social entrepreneur knows her employees are up to the challenge.</p>
<p>“Everybody told me that my business was going to fail -- not because of who I was giving my product to but because of who I was hiring," Veronika shared. "They said that these homeless women will never make more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich -- you cannot rely on them for anything. And I know my ladies enjoy proving everybody wrong."</p>
<p>Veronika is also planning to open a sister, for-profit company to sell the coats: after presenting it at Aspen Fashion Week a year ago, people have been asking to buy them as a fashion item. She hopes that the for-profit company (which will also hire employees from shelters and transition homes) will help support their charitable work. </p>
<p>Veronika would also like to show other clothing producers that local manufacturing is possible; as she states, “I think we're going to show a lot of people: you think it's outdated to do manufacturing in your neighborhood, but I think it's something that we have to do in the future, where it's sustainable, where you invest in people, where they're not interchangeable parts.”</p>
<p>Kudos to this amazing Mighty Girl for her impressive ingenuity and compassionate spirit! </p>
<p>You can read more about Veronika's organization on PBS at http://tinyurl.com/pyk8xmc or watch a short video about her work at http://tinyurl.com/qbe5oeq</p>
<p>To learn more about The Empowerment Plan or how you can support their work, visit http://www.empowermentplan.org/</p>
<p>For a wonderful book about female inventors throughout history, check out “Girls Think of Everything” for readers 8 to 13 at http://www.amightygirl.com/girls-think-of-everything</p>
<p>For Mighty Girl stories about the challenge of being homeless, visit our "Homelessness" section at http://www.amightygirl.com/books/social-issues/homelessness</p>
<p>For stories about the value of giving to others, visit our "Generosity/Charity" section at http://www.amightygirl.com/books/personal-development/values?cat=317</p>
<p>For those in the US who would like to support efforts to end homelessness, visit the National Alliance to End Homelessness at http://www.naeh.org/ or to find a local homeless shelter to support in your area, visit http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/
 
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