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EDITORIAL – Joe and Josie Homeowner need help as energy bills soar

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE HYDRO BILL for our house arrived the other day. It was shocking.

We’re used to high electricity bills in December and January but this one was truly a jaw-dropper. It was double what it normally is for this time of year, to the tune of several hundred dollars more.

Even though the cost per kilowatt hour has dropped slightly (thanks to a rate review last year), our usage is up substantially, which is consistent with what Hydro has experienced for the past year due in large part to extremes in heat and cold.

Already this winter we’ve had a couple of lengthy cold snaps. Even though we’ve turned down the thermostat, it doesn’t seem to make much difference. The fact we live rurally and must use electricity for heat means we’ve always had high hydro bills but the issue is the dramatic increase in those costs.

Summer is as bad as winter. According to BC Hydro, the demand for electricity last summer broke records as we all cranked up our air conditioners. (Air conditioning used to be a luxury — now, without it, people can die.)

Besides dramatic weather events, the new working-from-home culture caused by the pandemic has put extra strain on home heating and cooling. So, the pandemic and climate change are ganging up on us and costing us an arm and a leg.

No doubt, those on gas face similar challenges. Which brings me to the annoyance of having to pay a five-percent GST on heating and cooling. When bills reach into the several-hundreds-of-dollars range, that tax becomes significant.

Businesses are getting government help paying their hydro bills; why not Joe and Josephine Homeowner? At the least, the threshold for the lower Step One rate needs to be raised.

Heating a home is controllable within limits but it’s not just a nice-to-have. The ‘S’ in GST is for “service.” What we need is an “essential service” exemption.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (9125 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – Joe and Josie Homeowner need help as energy bills soar

  1. Robert George // January 26, 2022 at 5:16 PM // Reply

    Ours was 1600 dollars for the house alone.Thats for two months. Half the house has the registers closed and that part is separated off. We have a pellet furnace that will not handle the harder pellets and was not working. They are overpriced as well and of course there is no natural gas.We are beggars in our own land it seems. I wonder what the yanks are paying for our electricity.
    On the subject of electric cars.Has anyone out there had a spin in a Tesla? Unbelievable accelaration and 200 kliks in no time. It,s going to be interesting to see the results of Juniors borrowing the family car.

  2. Wait until your vehicle needs to be charged from grid power. Unless you opt for a long charging time, it may mean installing a 30 amp 240V specialized charging outlet at your house. The down side of course is having to do upgrades to your electrical service to accommodate having the increased load.
    That might make a good editorial in the future, Mel. Ask your favourite electrical contractor if your house has what is needed for that electric vehicle in your driveway. Ask what a bigger panel and associated materials and labour will be involved. Let’s look forward to your report!

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