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Hydro Hikes Coming? Blame Conservation!

First the good news: "between spring 2005 and the end of 2006, electricity loads in Toronto were reduced by 178.5 million kilowatt hours - enough to power 178,000 homes for a month." In other words, we've been doing a decent job at cutting back our electricity consumption and easing our drain on the power grid.

The bad news? Toronto Hydro is seeking a rate hike to recoup the financial losses conservation efforts have cost it.

Now I don't want to be callous - Toronto Hydro is an important (and highly regarded) employer in the city. It helps put food on the table for the families it employs and has a history of being involved in charity work and local fundraising. Still, I can't help but wonder if this is really the best way to deal with this issue.

While environmentalism has skyrocketed to the top of many an agenda, few things speak louder than the almighty dollar (especially saving some). It's possible that a rate increase could result in a further conservation efforts as consumers attempt to offset rising costs, but that seems like the recipe for a vicious cycle: either Hydro will go broke or we will. This isn't a deliberate punishment for conserving electricity, but it's not hard to imagine many people will see it as one.

It seems we're stuck in a bit of a catch-22: we need to conserve energy for the sake of the environment (and our wallets), but by conserving energy we're driving the price of that electricity up. I think everyone generally accepts that we all have to kick in our bit to protect the environment, but should the costs of Hydro conservation be passed on to the consumer, too?

Image by frigante from the blogTO Flickr pool.


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