Man loses court battle over electricity charges for cottage without power
Published Thursday, July 20, 2017 11:35AM EDT
An Ontario man has lost his court case against Hydro One over electricity delivery charges he received for his cottage that was disconnected from power for months.
Last fall, Kip Van Kempen sued the utility company in small claims court after he said he was charged hundreds of dollars in delivery fees for his all-season cottage on Mazinaw Lake, north of Kingston, Ont. between October 2015 and June 2016.
He argued the charges were unfair because his cottage had been cut off from power during the months of service indicated on his bill. He said he shouldn’t have to pay delivery fees when no electricity was delivered.
“The judge seemed to think otherwise. That if you’re a customer of Hydro One, regardless of whether hydro is delivered, you’re stuck with the delivery charge,” Van Kempen told CTV Toronto on Wednesday.
More than a year ago, a tree fell onto a power line leading to Van Kempen’s cottage during a storm. Hydro One crews cut the tree and disconnected the line but they were unable to repair it because of red tape and logistical issues.
Van Kempen was forced to wait nearly eight months before the power was finally restored.
Hydro One explained last September that customers are always given a flat-rate delivery charge if the company’s equipment, including a smart meter, is still on the property. To avoid paying the charge, customers should cancel their service and return the equipment.
The utility company said delivery charges are laid out by the Ontario Energy Board and everyone is required to pay.
In a statement issued to CTV News on Wednesday, Hydro One said the delivery fee “pays for lines, stations, customer service, storm response and maintaining the system.”
Van Kempen compared his court battle with Hydro One to the story of David and Goliath and said he lost because he was legally outmanoeuvered by the utility company’s team of lawyers.
“I felt terrible,” he said. “I felt I let people down because I really thought I had a strong argument before the judge.”
Ontario’s NDP Energy Critic Peter Tabuns agreed that Van Kempen had a reasonable case.
“If you’re in a situation where you’re paying for a service and you’re cut off from the service entirely and the service can’t be delivered, most normal people understand that the contract’s been broken,” Tabuns said on Wednesday.
The Ajax, Ont. man’s said he received an outpouring of support from other Ontarians frustrated by soaring hydro costs.
“People were saying good for you for taking on, if you will, Goliath in this situation,” Van Kempen said.
Van Kempen said Hydro One’s legal team treated him fairly during the proceedings.
He said he now has to pay $1,000 in legal fees. Van Kempen said he’s paid for all of his electricity charges and he’s not planning to appeal the judge’s ruling.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Paul Bliss