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Energy Prices Should Be Big Ontario Election Issue

Ellen Roseman — Toronto Star — June 10, 2014

Rising energy prices – up about five per cent this year – are squeezing consumers’ budgets, according to a recent Scotiabank report.

The typical household spends $5,000 a year on energy, including gasoline, fuel oil, natural gas, electricity and water. All (except natural gas) have far outpaced broad inflation in the 21st century.

Energy spending now accounts for 8.5 per cent of all Canadian household expenditures – about one percentage point above its long-term average, the report said.

And since most households can do little to conserve energy in the short term, they will spend less on other products – up to $4 billion less because of the five per cent rise in energy prices, said economist Adrienne Warren.

I’m talking about the report, which came out June 6, because it helps explain the anger and lethargy of Ontario voters as they look at the platforms of the three major parties.

Gasoline prices are at a record high. Why aren’t the party leaders promising to reduce Ontario’s percentage share of gasoline taxes?

Electricity is also high. Consumers pay 13.5 cents a kilowatt hour for power at peak times (noon to 5 on weekdays), about three cents more than in 2006.

About 93 per cent of Ontario households are subject to time-of-use rates, which are supposed to spur energy conservation. Yet these rates have had little impact on energy use, according to an Ontario Energy Board study.

Why aren’t the party leaders promising to revise time-of-use rates to make them work better? Why force households to pay more for peak use when they can do little to shift consumption?  Continue reading here….

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