It’s been the mildest Ontario winter in years. Why has my natural gas bill gone up?

This Ontario winter has been one of the mildest in recent memory so some homeowners are wondering why their heating bill has more than doubled over the past two years.

Nextdoor Canada, an app that allows neighbours to connect and discuss issues, noticed the biggest topic of conversation on it’s site recently was natural gas prices.

Christopher Doyle with Nextdoor Canada said the company conduced a survey and asked the question, “Have you seen an increase in your natural gas bill?” Ninety-three per cent of those asked said, “Yes.”

“Many shared with us that their bills have spiked by $70, $100 some even nearly $1,000 compared to last year,” Doyle said.

Robert Cassolato of Puslinch, Ont. was shocked to get a natural gas bill for $1,997.

Even though Cassolato said he was paying his natural gas bill every month, he was told there was a miscalculation and he would have to pay up.

“I was pretty shocked to get a bill like that. I have no problem paying the bill, if it’s the right thing to do, but it just doesn’t feel right,” Cassolato said.

Paula Martinez of Brampton, Ont. was also surprised to get a natural gas bill for $1,151 and was told her bill had to be re-adjusted due to incorrect estimates.

“Their estimates have been wrong and so therefore they are going back in time. I don’t think it’s fair they send a bill like that to their customers for thousands of dollars and then expect them to pay for it,” she said.

The war in Ukraine and increased demand are part of the reason for the price hikes, but there’s also been a shortage of meter readers which means people have not been getting an accurate bill. Now that they are, some homeowners are getting quite a shock.

CTV News Toronto reached out to Enbridge Gas and a spokesperson said of Martinez’s situation, “This case did involve a number of estimated meter readings through a portion of 2022 and the current bill would reflect an adjustment between estimated and actual consumption during that period.”

In October of 2022, when some homeowners started getting huge bills, Enbridge media spokesperson Andrea Stass told CTV News Toronto, “We don’t have enough meter readers, so that has caused us to have to estimate for a number of months in some cases.”

Enbridge told the Ontario Energy Board in the fall it’s working to improve its meter reading performance. Enbridge added that natural gas prices have recently dropped and there will be some relief coming for homeowners in the form of lower bills.

“Recently, the market price of natural gas has declined and as such, on January 1, 2023, Enbridge Gas implemented a reduction in the rates that customers pay for natural gas. Residential customers in Toronto and surrounding area who buy natural gas from the utility will see a decrease in their natural gas bills of about $119 per year or about eight percent of the total natural gas bill. This is good news at a time when temperatures are at their coldest and customers use the most gas. However, customers who elect to participate in the equal monthly payment plan (EMPP) may not see a decrease on their bill.”

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