Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Impacts upon seniors' and low-income households

To be honest, it is an article that I would not have expected to read in The National Post.  Entitled ‘Ontario’s Electric Circus’, and from 21 September 2011, interesting points about the relatively-modest differences in costs – to operate individual electric appliances in the home – are made.  These are similar to a blog posting of mine from last month.
The point to pick up on in this posting, however, follows from the article’s comment that:  ‘But there's little concrete evidence that time-of-use electricity rates disproportionately impact low-income families, seniors or otherwise at-risk groups - Mr. Hudak certainly hasn't offered any - and where such evidence can be found, it can be mitigated.’  I had the opportunity to supervise a Master’s student at the University of Waterloo a couple of years ago who investigated this issue.  In short (and the reader is directed to her thesis for full details), she found that seniors and low-income households (at least her sample in Milton, and at least as the on-, mid- and off-peak pricing existed before they were changed more recently) were a bit worse off under time-of-use rates (as compared to the traditional two-tier approach) in summer and a bit better off under time-of-use rates in the winter.  And, important to recognize, is that any differences were relatively modest.

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