Zen Zapped by Hydro One

There’s nothing like waking up to perfect blue sky and plenty of sunshine, strapping on the toolbelt and heading outside to find my zen. A little hammering, a little head-scratching and soon a big fat smile on my face reflected the pleasure of working on the energy retrofit of our Old Gal.
Husband showed up about an hour into my contentment, bearing news from Hydro One. Since I don’t fancy electrocution, we need to schedule a disconnect/connect of service in order to work within ten feet of their connection point on the front face of the house. There’s plenty of work to complete the front face (and all other sides), to get old materials off and to install the housewrap, insulation, strapping and new pine siding and trim. And then there is the complexity of the old and new window work to come.

What did I want first, he offered, the good news or the bad news? I felt my big fat smile slide right off my face.

According to our electrical contractor, Hydro One offers customers one complimentary disconnect/connect per calendar year. That means that they, in conjunction with your own electrical contractor and at your own cost (@$300), will disconnect your electrical service and reconnect it when you tell them to do so. You can ask them for a reconnect later that day, a week later or three months on. It really depends on what your tolerance is for no power to your house and how long it takes to defrost that side of beef in your freezer. With a family of six, power required to run our well pump, septic system, UV water treatment system and furnace, two people that work from home, and the aforementioned beef, our tolerance is one working day.

If I bring two guys in to work with me, assuming an early morning disconnect, we could reasonably strip the face of the house, remove the storms, pull off all the trim boards, replace/repair any punky sheathing boards, prep the surface for house wrap, flash and seal everything, wrap the face, install the board insulation, strap the face, install a stand-off post for the electrical mast, and have the reconnect done at the end of the day. All is good, so far, and I certainly don’t begrudge my electrician his fees.

But good quickly turns bad. I am not installing the siding and the rebuilt/refinished windows until the Spring for reasons of weather, schedule and budget. If Hydro One performs another disconnect/connect in the Spring, it will cost me $1,000 in addition to my electrical contractor’s fees. Option B, at $1,200 (plus own contractor fees), offers a ‘temporary wrap’ of the connecting point so that becomes safe to work around and therefore does not require a disconnect/connect.

Choice (anti-Zen) expletives followed by immature foot-stamping on my part, mistakenly understood to be directed at innocent messenger.
Either way, if we require two disconnects within one calendar year, we could be forking over nearly fifteen hundred bucks. Ironically, this will more than wipe out any savings from decreased energy bills that we might realize from the energy retrofit in at least the first two years. And because Hydro One is a monopoly we really have no choice.

Wouldn’t it make sense to waive all fees for residential energy retrofit projects? Couldn’t common sense prevail on a case-by-case basis, particularly when we’ve never called Hydro One in thirteen years of home ownership?

On that cliffhanger, this beautiful Thanksgiving long weekend comes to a close and I am tired. The irritating e-mails and follow-up phone calls can wait ‘till the morning and my frustration has drained through the keyboard to the page. My shoulder muscles relax as the lightness of sleep descends. I smile as my zen, in spite of myself, so quietly returns.

Like & Share

Leave a Reply