Thousands of Londoners Behind On Hydro Bills
About 8% of London Hydro’s customers were behind on their bills at the end of last year.
That mirrors province-wide statistics released on Wednesday by the Ontario Energy Board.
According to London Hydro spokesperson, Nancy Hutton, 12,406 of the 155,000 London customers were in arrears at the end of 2015, with a total amount owed of $2.5 million. That is an increase of 1,329 customers who were in arrears in 2013.
“When a person receives their bill, it’s due within 16 days of the bill being issued, so people that have unpaid bills after 30 days, that’s considered to be arrears,” Hutton says.
While it’s hard to pinpoint a direct cause, Hutton has an idea what causes people to fall behind on their bills.
“There has been an increase in electricity rates over the past several years, so that may be part of it,” says Hutton.
To avoid falling into arrears, Hutton says there are things customers can do to manage the size of their hydro bill.
“After seven, and all weekend, is cheaper for electricity, it’s less expensive,” says Hutton. “So customers that can shift any usage after 7pm and on the weekends will definitely have a positive impact on their bill.”
Hutton also points out that there are options for those who can’t make their payments on time, with assistance coming from several sources. Among these options is London Hydro’s online usage tracker, which allows customers to keep track of their consumption as soon as the next day. Payment plans can be also be arranged with London Hydro, financial assistance can be awarded through the Ontario Electricity Support Program, and emergency situation assistance is available from the City of London.
Whatever the means, Hutton assures that customers have options to make payments on time, or find alternatives to stay afloat.
“Customers always have the opportunity to make arrangements before they get into a situation where they are in arrears,” Hutton says. “So as long as they contact our office and talk to someone, they’re happy to help them out.”
**This story was written by Samuel Gallant. Samuel is a student in the Fanshawe College broadcast journalism program. He is performing a summer internship with Blackburn News.**