Coalition demanding real payback for Hydro-Quebec overcharges
A Hydro Quebec office is shown Thursday Oct. 29, 2009 in Quebec City.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Published Tuesday, April 18, 2017 7:35PM EDT
A group of Quebecers is delivering a symbolic 'cease and desist' order to Hydro-Quebec in the wake of revelations about the utility overcharging customers.
Pascal Zamprelli of the Switched On Coalition/Coalition Peuple Allumé said the group wants a refund of the $1.4 billion that customers were overcharged from 2008 to 2015.
That amounts to about $350 per client.
"The minister talked about potentially reduced tariffs in the future, but it very much wasn't clear though if he's talking about future profits that Hydro-Quebec might make or specifically that that would be the reimbursement of this $1.4 billion so the citizens want to know quite simply how and when will this $1.4 billion be reimbursed," said Zamprelli.
The coalition may attempt to launch a class-action lawsuit if it doesn't get an answer it considers clear.
Since the overbilling came to light earlier this month, the minister in charge of Hydro-Quebec said that in a way, the money has already been paid back.
The rationale is that Hydro-Quebec profits are taken by the provincial government as general revenue and so contributed to the provincial government balancing the budget in 2015 without resorting to higher tax increases.
Hydro-Quebec also notes that in 2015 and 2016, its requests for rate increases were limited to 0.7 percent -- much less than the rate of inflation.
However Pierre Arcand said earlier this month that money will be reimbursed in some fashion, likely through a price rebate.