More people in rural Ontario are struggling to keep their homes connected to the grid, and the United Way of Bruce Grey says it's turning into a crisis.
According to a report released on Thursday, local social services agencies and charities spent over $660-thousand dollars in the past year (from July 1st 2015 to June 30th 2016) helping people cover heating and utility bills.
The collaborative document by United Way of Bruce Grey on Thursday combines their own stats with information from Grey County Housing, Bruce County Social Services, Y Housing, and Salvation Army Wiarton.
United Way Bruce Grey Executive Director Francesca Dobbyn says hydro is more expensive in rural Ontario because Hydro One's "low density" rates mean residents pay almost twice as much for hydro as people living in "high density" areas.
And when using the Ontario Energy Board's monthly average household usage of 750 kilowatts, Dobbyn says people are paying just shy of $85 before they've even consumed any power.
The figure is made up of a $43 distribution fee, a $32 distribution volume charge, and lesser charges for transmission connection, transmission network, and smart metering.
In order to actually heat a home, Dobbyn says it costs another $80 a month.
"So in the winter, someone's bill is $160 and they've used 720 kilowatts -- but they haven't cooked dinner, they haven't turned a light on, they haven't turned anything else on."
Dobbyn says the cost of delivery should be spread out equally across all customers, similar to the system in Quebec.
Consumption is another piece of the solution, but Dobbyn says if Ontarians don't use enough electricity to cover agreements, rates go up again to ensure a profit.
"The drum that we beat is conservation, conservation, and we're asking people to cut back and do without and change their lifestyle," she says.
"And yet we still increase the power costs because they didn't make enough profit."