Even though construction on the house is nearing completion, Robinson says they can’t move in anytime soon because they can’t afford to pay Hydro One the $ 60,000 the utility wants to hook up the electricity. . “It’s far from our budget. Especially when it’s, like, a third of the cost that we spent [building] home, ”Robinson, 60, told CBC News.
The Robinsons live on County Road 1, a scenic stretch of municipal road dotted with many homes and businesses just outside the town of Minden, 193 kilometers northeast of Toronto.
Their new home is built on a two and a half kilometer stretch of road where there is a hole in the power lines. The nearest utility pole is about 440 yards west of their house.
Hydro One, which serves 1.5 million predominantly rural customers in Ontario and reported a profit of $ 238 million in the second quarter of 2021, says the couple must cover expenses to extend the existing pole line to their property, then transfer ownership of the line once they’ve paid for it.
Robinson says they expected to pay the utility to run electricity about 35 yards from the road to their new home, but never thought they would have to pay to install poles and a line on a public road as well.
“They’re waiting for homeowners to pay to fix this problem,” he told CBC News.
Robinson says before he and his wife bought the vacant property 15 years ago, the utility told them the gap in the power line along County Road 1 would soon be connected to existing lines. .
In 2006, $ 3.3 million was spent to upgrade the region’s electricity grid, including replacing poles and installing new lines. But that didn’t fill the void in the power line near the Robinson’s property.
“They tell me now that it’s a [hydro] grid extension. It’s not. It’s a line completion that they haven’t been able to do, ”said Robinson.
“I just want Hydro One to be fair. “
Now Robinson and his wife say they will spend the winter in a trailer, looking at their new home a few steps away.
” It hurts. I like the house. I want to live there so badly. I have never owned a house. We’ve struggled our entire lives to be able to own a home, ”he told CBC News.
“Our plan was to be in the house and spend the winter there. It will not happen. “
Hydro One responds
The company now known as Hydro One was formed in 1999 after the Progressive Conservative government of Premier Mike Harris dismantled Ontario Hydro and reorganized it into five separate companies. Since 2015, provincial governments have sold over 50% to private investors.
In a statement to CBC News, Tiziana Baccega Rosa, the company’s senior media relations advisor, said that while the utility wanted to work with the Robinsons to resolve the issue, they had to bear the cost of the food. of their property.
“All electric utilities in the province must follow rules set by the Ontario Energy Board, which require people who buy property off the grid to pay for the installation of new poles, wires. and equipment to connect to the existing electricity grid, ”she said. wrote.
“These rules prevent costs associated with the needs of a particular customer from being paid by all electricity customers in Ontario.
In this case, this includes installing six utility poles along the public highway, a power line, and anchoring a transformer.
The Robinsons are also required to clear trees or brush along the municipal road and repair any damage to the road that may occur during the installation of the line.
While the Robinsons are being asked to pay $ 60,000, the utility would contribute about $ 130.
If other nearby landowners build on their unserviced land and want electricity, they will also have to pay for the infrastructure, according to Hydro One. Some of that money would be used to compensate the Robinson Crusoes.
With no end to the argument on the horizon, Robinson fears it will be a long, cold winter in their trailer.
“We had a budget and we had a plan and we had the money in place to do the house. And then it all happened. “