Billing, Payment and Rates

Hydro Westmount: change in electricity rates
2019 Electricity Rates: The Régie de l’énergie has approved its decision D-2019-027 on March 5th, 2019 of an average increase of 0.9% on the electricity rate.

The monthly impact of this rate change on your electricity bill starting April 1st will be about $0.90/month for a small house and $1.72/month for a medium-sized house.

For the residential rate with the expansion of the first consumption band from 36 kWh to 40 kWh, the bill could be lower.

You have 21 days (19 days for commercial customers) from the billing date to pay your electricity bill using the method of your choice:

  • Through a financial institution (by automatic teller, phone, Internet banking or at the counter)
  • By mail (Hydro Westmount, 4333 Sherbrooke Street W., Westmount, Quebec H3Z 1E2) *
  • In person at the Customer Service counter, Westmount City Hall, 4333 Sherbrooke Street W. *

* Cheques should be addressed to the City of Westmount. Please make sure to include the detachable portion of the invoice.

If payment is not made by the due date, administration charges will apply on the unpaid balance calculated from the due date. Please note that payments by credit card are not accepted at this time.

 Moving?

If you are moving and would like to close or open an account, please provide our Customer Service Office with all the relevant information. Call 514 925-1414. We would appreciate it if you would take a few minutes and send us your meter reading, on the day of your move, so that we can bill you for your actual consumption.

Other information

To better help you plan your budget, Hydro Westmount offers an Equalized Payments Plan. This practical payment method allows you to spread your yearly electricity consumption over twelve monthly bills. Your monthly payment is calculated once a year, based on the previous twelve months. This payment method is designed to save you unpleasant surprises and unexpected invoices. It remains in effect as long as your payments reach us on time.

Hydro Westmount offers customers the convenience of paying with a Pre-authorized Payments (PAP) Plan. Using this payment method, the exact amount of your invoice is automatically debited from your bank account on the due date. Pre-authorized payments offer a simple and convenient way to pay your electricity bill on time. Contact HW Customer Service at 514 925-1414 to obtain a PAP Plan application form.

There are many factors that can influence your hydro bill.

The time of year, thermostat settings, outside temperatures, the size and number of appliances in the home, improvements to insulation, a new baby, teenagers, and houseguests can all play a part.

Outside temperature

As we all know, some winters are worse than others. If you heat with electricity, you will consume more during exceptionally cold ones. We can’t control the weather but, as you will see below, there are other things we can control.

Characteristics of your dwelling

Heating accounts for over 50% of your electricity consumption. Your home can lose up to 40% of its heat if its roof and foundation are poorly insulated. What you can do to make a difference:

  • Have your insulation checked and upgraded if necessary, especially on the sides of your house facing north or facing the prevailing winds.
  • Apply caulking or weatherstripping around windows, doors, fireplace, and anywhere else air sealing is needed. It costs little, and saves a lot!
  • In winter, uncover the sun-exposed windows and close the curtains or blinds on the shaded windows.

Family lifestyle

Each family’s lifestyle is different, and it is normal to expect that your bill won’t be the same as your neighbor’s. Homemaking habits, hobbies, the number of children and their ages all vary from household to household and all have an impact on your hydro bills. Changing your habits costs you nothing, and can make a big difference in your energy bill.

  • Operate appliances only when necessary.
  • Take shorter, cooler showers.
  • Repair leaky faucets.
  • Reduce the heat in unused rooms.
  • Turn down your thermostats at night.
  • Open the refrigerator only as long as necessary.

Billing Period

Variations in the number of days in your billing period can also have a bearing. Hydro meters are read on a two-month cycle which means that the period covered by the bill can vary between 55 and 65 days. A difference of 10 days during the hottest period of the summer or in the middle of winter could really surprise you.

Vacations and your appliances

Being away from home doesn’t automatically mean a reduction in electricity consumption – many people don’t realize that a number of appliances continue to operate while they’re away. A refrigerator or freezer, for instance, will operate unless it is unplugged. When nearly empty, it often works harder. The heating system and furnace fan also continue to operate to keep the house warm. Even if we remember to turn the temperature down, the heat still comes on periodically to maintain the set temperature.

And don’t forget the extra cleaning, washing, drying and ironing that we do when we’re preparing for or returning from a vacation. That also uses energy and may very well offset the energy saved while we were away.

Before being installed in your home, the meter has been inspected by Measurement Canada, just as gasoline pumps and commercial scales. The majority of meters are tested every 12 years (some every 6 years). Once calibrated, the meter is sealed to ensure that no one can tamper with its mechanism. The meter is a reliable, high-precision instrument that cannot be reset to zero after a reading. Should an error occur when your meter is read, the next reading will automatically correct it. Experience has shown that the meter is tough and hard-wearing.

Your meter does not consume any electricity.

How does the meter operate?

Your meter keeps a running total of the kWh you consume, much like the odometer in your vehicle. It is equipped with a horizontal disk and four or five dials. The digits 0 to 9 appear on each dial.

  • When you consume electricity, the disk rotates, driving a tiny sprocket wheel which in turn moves the pointer on the first, or units, dial.
  • After one complete turn, the pointer on the units dial activates the dial on the second, ortens, dial.
  • The hundreds and thousands dials are activated in the same way.
  • Your consumption is calculated on the basis of the readings on the four (or in some cases, five)dials.

How do I read a meter?

Your meter has either four or five dials on it. Some hands move clockwise and others move counter clockwise. All hands move from 1 to 2 to 3, and so on. From left to right, read and record the placement of the hand on each dial. If the hand on the dial is between numbers, always use the lower of the two numbers. The only exception is if the hand is between 0 and 9, in which case you would use 9.

How often will Hydro Westmount read my meter?

For most of our residential customers, meters are read six times per year and you will receive an invoice six times per year. You can budget accordingly by calling our Customer Service Office staff to determine the invoicing date for your area, or you can determine the schedule based on the invoice date of your first bill. Once you receive your first invoice, you will be invoiced at approximately the same time every two months.

What is an estimated reading?

If we have not been able to read your meter, we will estimate your consumption for that particular billing period. An estimated reading takes into account past electricity use as well as adjustments relating to the season. Any differences will be adjusted at the time of the next meter reading. Estimated readings only take place when we are unable to gain access to read your meter.

Measuring electrical consumption

To calculate your consumption, Hydro Westmount uses an electricity meter that measures the kilowatthours you have used in a given period.

What is a kilowatthour?

The kilowatthour (kWh) is a time-based unit of electricity consumption.

  • watt = basic unit of power of an electrical appliance
  • 1 watthour = 1 watt of power used over a 1-hour period
  • 1 kilowatthour = 1,000 watthours

In a “D” rate after the first 40 kWh, in your opinion, what consumes more electricity: a 1,000-watt (1 kW) baseboard heater operating for one hour, or a 100-watt (0.1 kW) light bulb left on for 10 hours? And how much does that amount to in dollars?

Calculate the consumption for each case:

Baseboard heater
Wattage (W) 1,000
/ 1,000
= Wattage (kW) 1
x Usage (hours) 1
= Consumption (kWh) 1
x Cost per kWh ($) 0.0938
= Cost of the electricity consumed ($) 0.0938
Bulb
Wattage (W) 100
/ 1,000
= Wattage (W) 0.1
x Usage (hours) 10
= Consumption (kWh) 1
x Cost per kWh ($) 0.0938
= Cost of the electricity consumed ($) 0.0938

Surprised? The same amount of electricity is consumed in both cases.

Complaint procedure concerning the application of a rate or a condition for the supply of electricity

SCOPE

This procedure applies to any complaint concerning the application of a rate or condition for the supply of electricity within the meaning of sections 86 to 101 of An Act respecting the Régie de l’énergie (1996, S.Q., ch.61);

CUSTOMERS’ COMPLAINTS (first level of claim) Customer service

Any complaint relating to the application of a rate or condition for the supply of electricity, shall be first addressed to the customer service which can be reached at the telephone number or at the address appearing below;

CUSTOMERS’ COMPLAINTS (second level of claim) PROCEEDING BEFORE THE DIRECTOR OF HYDRO WESTMOUNT

The customer may address himself to the Director of Hydro Westmount if he or she considers that the answer received from the customer service is unsatisfactory. The complaint shall be formulated in writing and shall include a detailed description of the situation which is the object of the complaint, an indication of the results sought and the name, address, telephone number and the account number shown on your bill;

ASSISTANCE FROM CUSTOMER SERVICE

Upon request, the customer service employees will assist complainants in formulating their complaints and give them the opportunity to present their observations;

DECISION BY THE DIRECTOR OF HYDRO WESTMOUNT

The Director of Hydro Westmount shall communicate his or her written decision to the complainant within sixty days of receiving the complaint.

The Director shall indicate the reasons for the decision and the possibility of recourse to the Régie de l’énergie under sections 94 and following of An Act respecting the Régie de l’énergie;

URGENT COMPLAINT

If a notice of interruption has been transmitted or if service has been interrupted, the customer may formulate a written or verbal complaint to the Director of Hydro Westmount who shall communicate the reasons of his or her decision, in writing within forty-eight hours of receiving the complaint;

CUSTOMERS’ COMPLAINTS (third level of claim) PROCEEDING BEFORE THE RÉGIE

The customer may ask the Régie de l’énergie to study his or her complaint if he or she considers that the decision he or she has received from the Director of Hydro Westmount is unsatisfactory. The request shall be formulated in writing and shall indicate the reasons for such a request. The request shall be sent to the Secretariat of the Régie within thirty days of the date of transmission of the decision of the Director of Hydro Westmount to the customer. The request shall be subject to the procedure prescribed in sections 94 to 101 of An Act respecting the Régie de l’énergie.

Address: HYDRO WESTMOUNT
City of Westmount
995 Glen Road
Westmount, Quebec H3Z 2L8
RÉGIE DE L’ÉNERGIE
800 Place Victoria, Suite 255
P.O. Box 001
Montreal, Quebec H4Z 1A2
Telephone: 514 925-1414 514 873-5050
Fax: 514 989-5254 514 873-2070

Why is Hydro Westmount changing meters?
Meters have an expiry date (generally 10 years) and must be changed by the expiration date. This process is strictly audited by Measurement Canada and failure to comply results in heavy fines for the City of Westmount.

Who owns the meter?
The meter is owned by Hydro-Westmount and is sealed. The calibration and sealing process is regulated and certified by Measurement Canada. By law, consumers cannot manipulate nor tamper with the meters. Hydro Westmount has the responsibility by law to replace and maintain the meters as required.

Why can’t the actual electro-mechanical meter be replaced by another one of the same type?
Traditional electro-mechanical meters (with the wheel) are obsolete and no longer manufactured. The City of Westmount is replacing these meters with a new electronic meter that has a digital display and can be read from a limited distance. The new meters have also been selected for their improved accuracy of the readings and billing that would eliminate estimated billing when the meters cannot be accessed or read.

Is Hydro-Westmount installing smart meters?
No, Hydro Westmount does not install smart meters like those that are being used in other parts of the province by Hydro-Quebec. Hydro Westmount installs second generation electronic meters with limited RF capabilities that calculate the electric consumption the same way that traditional electro-mechanical meters did. Smart meters that are used elsewhere in the province by Hydro-Quebec have more features and have the capability of capturing more details on the electrical consumption, such as, the time of use. Smart meters are read remotely from a central location.

Does the electronic meter emit radio-frequencies (RF)?
The electronic meters that Hydro Westmount installs have very limited RF emission capabilities. They emit a very low signal of about 1ms every 30 seconds in order to allow a reading from a limited distance (i.e. from the sidewalk next to the home or at the doorstep for larger buildings).

Why is Hydro Westmount installing electronic meters that can be read remotely?
Our main reason for choosing these new meters is for better accuracy of the readings and billing which would eliminate estimated readings when the meters cannot be accessed or read. Having the capability to read the meter remotely will minimize manual interventions and avoid sending a City employee onto your property or in your home to read the meter.

Is the electronic meter safe? Why?
Health Canada has determined that these devices are extremely safe and generate no health risks as documented in studies that are available on their website. For the same reasons, la Régie de l’Énergie has also allowed Hydro-Quebec to install smart meters based on various studies. For matters of comparisons, the acceptable level of RF emission, as determined by Health Canada, is 6000000 uW/m2 from a distance of 1m. The meters utilized by Hydro Westmount emit less than 50 uW/m2 which is 120000 times less than the acceptable level of emissions.

How do you compare the RF emissions of the electronic meter to other devices?
The electronic meters installed by Hydro Westmount have a level of emission of no more than 50 uW/m2 (see above) that is much less than other commonly used devices. Here are some examples as cited from a recent study of l’IREQ (l’Institut de recherche de Hydro-Québec): microwave ovens (2147 uW/m2), computers connected to WIFI (951uW/m2), cellular phones (699 uW/m2), wireless phones (352 uW/m2), baby monitors (153 uW/m2). It is important to note that the meters used by Hydro Westmount emit a very short signal of about 1ms every 30 seconds while most of these other household devices emit RF signals continuously when they are on.

What if I refuse to have an RF emitting meter installed? What are my options?
Despite the conclusions pointing to the absence of tangible risks to health and security, Hydro Westmount has set up a program to respect the freedom of choice of its residential clientele regarding the implementation of this new technology. Consequently, residents may request, under certain conditions, that Hydro-Westmount install an electronic meter that does not emit any radio frequency and assume any additional costs related to this option:

  • 1. A written request from the client requesting to opt-out of the radiofrequency meter must be submitted to Hydro Westmount.
  • 2. The electrical installation at the service address must be single-phase and rated 200 A or less and that the meter is located at the exterior of the building and is accessible at all time;
  • 3. There must have been no billing of demand for the contract in the previous 12 monthly periods;
  • 4. If an interruption of service notice was sent to you in the 45 days preceding your request, you must have entered into a payment arrangement with Hydro Westmount or have entirely remedied the situation that led to the notice, as the case may be;
  • 5. Hydro Westmount must not have interrupted your service during the past 24 months for any of your contracts;
  • 6. There must not have been any tampering with metering equipment or any other Hydro Westmount equipment and electricity service must not have been impeded in the past 24 months for any of your contracts;
  • 7. You will be charged 85$ (initial installation charge) for installation of the requested non-radiofrequency meter. This charge applies for each non-radiofrequency meter installed;

 

Links (for more information)

Health Canada 
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/prod/meters-compteurs-eng.php

Direction de la santé publique (Quebec)
https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/advice-and-prevention/health-and-environment/demystifying-radiofrequencies/