TORONTO – A class action lawsuit has been launched against Hydro One claiming customers were victims of a new billing system brought in by the utility.
The statement of claim, filed Wednesday in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice, alleges widespread billing problems after Hydro One introduced the new management system in May 2013.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Bill Bennett, a Gravenhurst, Ont., resident is the proposed plaintiff in the suit who allegedly experienced numerous billing issues including unexplained increases in cost.
The claim says Bennett, for example, received an envelope from Hydro One in April 2015 that contained nearly 40 revised bills for a four-year period that represented about a 185 per cent increase in the cost of his electricity bills.
Daffyd Roderick, the director of corporate affairs with Hydro One, says he cannot comment as the matter is before the courts. The suit is claiming damages for $125-million.
“Many of Hydro One’s customers simply cannot afford to take legal action,” said Eric R. Hoaken, a lawyer with the firm Lax O’Sullivan Scott Lisus that has brought the lawsuit along with the firm Koskie Minsky.
“A class action is the only way they will be able to achieve meaningful access to justice against Hydro One.”
Bennett has not received an “adequate response” from Hydro One about the bills, according to the claim.
Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin released a scathing report in May into the billing practices of Hydro One that said the company, which is wholly owned by the government of Ontario, sent faulty bills to 100,000 customers, tried to cover up the issues and spent $88.3 million dollars trying to fix the problem.
For that, Hydro One apologized to its customers and agreed to the recommendations suggested by Marin and said it had fixed many of the problems identified in the report.
“We let them down and then we didn’t treat them well when they had a problem,” said Hydro One CEO Carm Marcello at the time. “I’m sorry we put our customers through that negative experience and they felt that they had no recourse but to go to the Ombudsman.”
Bennett’s statement of claim said tens of thousands of customers stopped receiving bills, some received large catch-up bills and many had large sums of money withdrawn automatically from their bank accounts by Hydro One and thousands more were affected by billing errors that “didn’t reflect the electricity actually consumed.”