Hydro-Quebec: price freeze, no rebate, after years of overcharging

Hydro-Quebec is going to make up for overcharging customers $1.5 billion -- but don't expect a cheque in the mail.

The CAQ has proposed legislation that will see rates frozen next year and raised only by the rate of inflation for four years after that – a move that’s being applauded by anti-poverty groups.

The average savings will be around $150 per household over the next five years, said Hydro-Quebec.

Energy Minister Jonatan Julien tabled Bill 34 on Wednesday.

For years, Project Genesis has been advocating for a hike freeze as compensation for overbilling.

“We know people who only heat their apartments partially, just a few rooms,” said Project Genesis community organizer Sheetal Pathak.

Heating and hot water account for 70 per cent of a customers’ bill. The last hike was for an average of $13 per year, made even worse for those living in apartments with poor insulation.

“We regularly see people coming in here with bills of $500, $700 over two months,” said Pathak.

Last year, Hydro-Quebec inked the biggest deal in the corporation’s history to supply electricity to the state of Massachusetts for 20 years. The CAQ wants to increase exports even more.

Even though Hydro's profits rose by more than $3 billion in 2018, customers still saw their rates increase by 0.9 per cent in April.

It might not seem like a lot to some, but any utility hike leaves a lot of Quebecers with a difficult choice, said Pathak.

“Should I eat or should I heat?” she said.