TORONTO - It’s that annoying, pesky line on your hydro bill.
“Debt Retirement Charge.”
Of all the e-mails I get, the most frequent and the most frustrated are about the hefty charge the DRC adds to your bill.
Homeowners, especially seniors and others on a fixed income, are angry.
They’re feeling it all the more as this brutal winter pushes heating costs to the stratosphere.
Many seniors bought their homes in the 1960s and ’70s, when the old Ontario Hydro told them to “Live better electrically.”
They heated their homes with hydro, thinking the low rates would continue forever.
Now they’re paying soaring prices, soaring taxes — and the infuriating DRC. You pay HST on top of the DRC.
The DRC came about as a result of the “stranded debt,” created when the old Ontario Hydro was split up into separate entities by the Mike Harris government.
In 1999, after a succession of bad decisions by governments of all stripes, the giant utility was in the red. The DRC was supposed to pay that down. But now it has been 15 years since the DRC kicked in.
Shouldn’t it be paid off by now — given that every hydro ratepayer in the province is dinged a significant amount of money on every hydro bill?
Well, no. It’s not paid off.
In fact, the Liberals quietly added $4 billion to it.
“Back in 2009, there was $4 billion added by the government that they didn’t reveal until after the 2011 budget,” says Tory finance critic Vic Fedeli.