Hydro Ottawa Outrage. I got nowhere then and thought I would just have to bite the bullet on it all but now I'm Pig Biting Mad and I'm Not Going to Take It Anymore.
It has been a long weary road for me with regards to a company called Hydro Ottawa. I used to be under Nepean Hydro and they took maintenance of their power lines seriously. I have an anchor pole and a line that extends across this property to a major roadway in our nation's capital. Nepean Hydro trimmed trees on those lines religiously. You could set your clocks by them and engineers came out to inspect the line regularly - especially if I reported problems to them. Not so with Hydro Ottawa. For the past three years I have dealt with bizarre Hydro bills, I currently have $1,000.00 on deposit with this utility but that doesn't stop them from disconnecting my service no matter what attempts I have made to pay. Complaints to the Ontario Energy Board only revealed that they back the Hydro companies and are not there for consumer protection. The problem is power surges which come back into my house through a bad neutral and ground connection. Each surge puts 3000KW hours onto my billing and each surge has been worse than the one before. The last one on January 24th, 2006 caused a fire in the television in my son's room.
He was wakened by the sound of what he thought was bacon frying in the kitchen. The smell test was different though and he opened his eyes to smoke coming from his plugged in but not turned on TV in the corner of his bedroom. His sister and I responded to his frightened yell for help and we wrestled the TV out of the house. The lights were glowing extremely brightly, you would have thought the bulbs were 400Watts, and then would go dim. I pulled the breaker to cut off power to the house while the children were running pulling plugs.
I phoned Hydro Ottawa repairs - they have been here several times to fix the same problem from the pole and there are now 4 patched clips wrapped with electrical tape hanging from the pole in the back yard. Trees come up to the transformer at the top of the pole and the whole thing would make even McGuyver wince. They attended the property, didn't look at the pole, said the meter was hot, looked at my breaker box, decided the problem was a loose wire in the box and took the meter from my house ( of course they did this after I left to drive my daughter to work and they fled the scene like thieves in the night). After three calls back to Hydro Ottawa, I was told that in order to get the meter back I had to get an electrician and an Electric Safety Authority certification. The woman who informed me of this had a big laugh that my house nearly burned down - this attitude is so totally typical of Hydro Ottawa that it bears mentioning. I contacted an electrician, ABC Heating and Electric of North Gower, Ontario who sent an electrician and assistant. They verified with the landlord that the landlord would be responsible for any charges and proceeded to inspect every wire and circuit in my house. They found no problem in the home, other than perfectly normal wear, that would cause the electrical surge which started the fire. The Safety Inspector came and passed the house. Hydro was called to bring back the meter. The meter was reinstalled and the lights glowed at 400W and went dim again. The same problem as before. The electricians checked the amperage in every circuit in the house and found the problem in the ground connection outside the home. Hydro was called, they came and climbed the pole, fixed the problem and the Dispatch told the electrician to bill Hydro Ottawa as it was not the responsibility of the householder.
It all goes terribly wrong from there. Along with the small TV, the large TV and stereo speakers running through it doesn't work any longer, the adapters on both phones were zapped and the phones were rendered useless. Hydro Ottawa says they tried to call me several times, hard to get a call when you have no phone. My computer hard drive was damaged and I spent $160 with JDA Computer Repairs of Richmond replacing the power supply, disk drive and further inspection for damages. The tower is working but the modem is damaged and I am constantly kicked from the connection. The system is old and everyone knows that that means an unresolvable repair issue with regards to the modem. I lost 4,000 emails, hundreds of hours of research, contacts and 10 days of income. Two burners on the stove no longer worked, all the fuses on the stove were blown, every light bulb in the house has now been replaced. The fax machine is fried, the scanner no longer works, or I would scan the documents and upload them, my clock radio melted down, the DVD player no longer works and my son's Playstation 2 is also destroyed. These are all old items, I no longer have receipts and they are not warranted. I don't have home insurance. I also received a bill for $2,113.79 from ABC Electric which included $350 for the ESA Inspection. Hydro Ottawa says this bill is my problem.
They have been here three times in the past two weeks to disconnect me, despite the damage to my property, income and the $1,000 deposit. No one has come to repair the pole properly. Funny how they can get people out here to harass me for money but can't get anyone out here to fix a serious and life threatening problem.
Since I had a fire in my house and am concerned with these power surges and their increasing fury, I contacted Fire Prevention Services of Ottawa. I wanted the pole inspected as a fire hazard. They won't do this, they say Hydro Ottawa has to do this. Over the past three years, I have phoned the Mayor, my Council person, complained to the OEB, called the police and have discovered that no one has the power to make Hydro Ottawa fix the mess. I called Dalton McGuinty's office and have spoken to his assistant twice now. He contacted the Mayor of Ottawa and they were to try and mediate this today. Our Mayor has been as useless as tits on a bull. His staff could care less and all Hydro Ottawa says is that they are disconnecting me tomorrow unless I come up with $800 in a certified cheque tonight. What about that $1,000 deposit? Apparently that has no meaning.
I contacted the Ottawa Citizen in hopes that a reporter would be able to help. Unfortunately, that was also a waste of time as he neglected to mention the history of power surges, the $1,000 deposit and the fire hazard of the pole which even he said looked pretty rickety. He also observed the trees all over the line from here all the way down the road. This reporter was misled by Hydro Ottawa, they fell all over themselves saying they wanted to work with me on this - their version of working with me was demanding a certified cheque. Important facts to leave out I thought but then I am no one. The National Post did pick up the story though Ottawa woman may lose electricity despite Hydro's consideration of her damages claim. Unfortunately, Hydro Ottawa likes to tell lies and obviously I have been paying a Hydro bill here for over 18 years now and managed to keep the lights on until Hydro Ottawa became involved. My bills were outlandish and no one could have kept up with them, especially a poor woman like me. I will not be shamed for poverty.
I will not be voting for the Mayor Bob Chiarelli or the Council Person Jan Harder and I suggest that no one else support them either - they won't support you if you have a problem. I am safer with the power disconnected to the house than to continue to be at risk. I am most disappointed in a Fire Department and Fire Prevention Services that doesn't care about fires and an Energy Board that doesn't care about safety. I am most gravely concerned at us dying in a fire and this all being swept under a rug and Hydro Ottawa being accountable to no one - even to us in our death if that is what occurs.
Hydro Ottawa says I have made no payments and that the payment through the instabank on March 17 of $200 does not exist to them. Don Silvestri repeatedly called me "Madam" and expressed no interest in the fire that occurred here - he is a company man and he wants money, money, money and doesn't believe I sent any. I told him "Madams" are prostitutes and if I was one, I would be able to pay the damn bill. He doesn't care that power surges put 3000 KW hours on the bills and that there have been several here. I think his staff is ignorant to deal with and after speaking to him, I know who they learned it from. Shit runs downhill.
I will have no power after tomorrow and I think I may invest in solar generators and forget about Hydro at all. It just isn't safe. Burning to death in a house fire just doesn't sound like a good way to go and no one at any level of goverment cares.
It is also most interesting to note that the claims process against a Hydro company is designed for them not to pay. They first insist you put it through home insurance and have the manufacturer's fix it under warranty. Why should these people pay? They didn't start the fire. Hydro Ottawa is either negligent, incompetent or indifferent or maybe they just know that they can get away with anything. What do you think? I contacted the Insurance Bureau of Canada to see if insurance companies who paid out on Hydro damage claims subrogated Hydro companies for the return of the money. A completely indifferent man told me that no they didn't bother too, it was just easier and cheaper usually to pay the claim than to fight Hydro in court. He could have given a rats ass about the whole sitation. Insurance is just another scam perpetrated on society anyway.
Call your Mayor, your council person, your MPP, your MP, your fire department and let them know what you think. If one family is hurt by this false system, it is one to many. I wonder how many deaths there have been that relate back to a power surge from a line. I bet we will never know, fire would destroy all the evidence and no one would know the victims history with the Hydro company.
It used to be that working for a Hydro company was a sign of prestige, all employees of these unaccountable businesses should hang their heads in shame. Rosemarie Leclair is the President and CEO of this organization from hell and she is nominated in the Ottawa Business Woman of the Year awards being held on March 28. She doesn't deserve any type of honour - her company isn't honourable or accountable.
I don't know when I will be back on line but thanks for all the support over the past three years while I have tried to deal with this impossible situation. Don't believe any business that says your call or your business is important to them, that is just the new line of bullshit (and there is even a book about it). Hydro Ottawa can't even be fair - that makes them below garbage and beneath contempt.
Update: March 28th, 2006. After I called the Ottawa Business Women's Network, Hydro backed off and will wait for their $800 until 30 days after the claim is paid. I got the letter on the claim today and they have offered me $800 as a settlement but still stick me with the $2,113.79 electrician's bill. The electrician said my landlord refuses to pay even though on the date they would only do the work with her approval, at the end of the day Hydro Ottawa told them to bill Hydro Ottawa for the money as I was not responsible. The claim settlement letter states "Suppliers of electrical energy do not guarantee a continuous or unvaried flow of power. Despite the degree of sophistication reached in energy distribution systems, there unfortunately remains many circumstances beyond our control which give rise to unexpected interruptions and voltage variations." Signed by J.R. Henwood, , Claims Adminstrator of Insurance Risk Management and Financial Solutions. No one is responsible for safety apparently. Chris Collins from the Premier of Ontario's Office has been a great help and John Tory the Leader of the Opposition has also been very sympathetic. It is now in the hands of Norm Sterling, MLA who is covering my riding until the by-election is complete but, of course, nothing has changed. A big thanks to Mike for taking the pics on his digital camera and getting them off to me. I still use film and with no scanner, my photography for the internet is screwed. Nothing like having my source of income totally ruined by inept, incompetent and indifferent jerks like Hydro Ottawa.
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