Most ornamental grasses are currently at their peak in Ontario landscapes. The large variety of sizes, colors and shapes available continues to expand every season. Here are some that I have admired recently…
The first ornamental grass pictured (first 2 pics) is an annual in my Ontario climate, meaning it is not winter hardy and will die as soon as frost hits it. It must be replaced each spring so I like to use it in a container instead of in the garden.
The other ornamental grasses pictured are perennials, returning each year bigger and better than the previous year. They can be cut back to a few inches from the ground in the late fall if you wish. If you like the look of the fronds blowing in the wind and snow over the winter (the birds love them!) leave the cutting back until the early spring before new growth appears. If the clumps gets too large they can be divided in the spring.
Most are drought tolerant and low maintenance making them increasingly popular in landscapes for busy people. Now is a good time to plant new ones, allowing the roots to get established before the ground freezes. This time of year brings good reductions in prices too as nurseries like to clear out their stock before the winter.
Have you looked at your hydro bill lately? I mean really looked? Do you have a hard time understanding the bills you pay? It makes me wonder if they purposely make the bills confusing so that people will not look carefully and just pay what is requested without thinking about it. I have to admit that until I heard recently about the drastically increasing hydro costs, I did not pay enough attention to them. It does not help when bills are automatically paid through paperless bank accounts. These technological advances in banking and bill paying are very convenient, but can lead to consumer oblivion.
HydroOttawa provides the electricity to our home in Kanata, Ontario. After looking at our most recent bill very closely, I have a lot of questions…
Recently they have switched us from equalized payments to monthly billing. I am not sure why, but somehow I do not feel it is to our advantage. I heard recently of many complaints from rural residences that were charged exorbitant rates from HydroOne (one report was $12,000) through their pre-authorized automatic payment plan, then offered a credit to correct the mistake instead of a refund. In other words, Hydro keeps the money and the customer is left with $12,000 less in their account. What would happen if you didn’t have that kind of money in your account (I’m sure you would still be stuck with a large interest charge for overdrawing on the account even though the mistake was not yours) or were counting on it for something else? (like food maybe)
Our consumption of electricity is categorized into off peak, mid peak and on peak periods of each day. Reasonable, I guess, if nothing else to convince you to use less electricity during the on peak (more expensive) hours. See the chart below for peak and non peak hours. What I do not understand is why there are two charges for each of these categories on my list of charges?
12.9 ¢ / kWh
Weekdays 7 am – 11 am
5 pm – 7 pm
10.9 ¢ / kWh
Weekdays 11 am – 5 pm
7.2 ¢ / kWh
Weekdays 7 pm – 7 am Weekends All Day
also on the list of charges to be paid:
-HST (harmonized sales tax)
-Regulatory charges; they do attempt to explain what that entails on the back of the bill, but basically it means us funding the Ministry of Energy for the never ending scandals and inefficient, ineffective, billion dollar programs they come up with.
-A debt retirement charge to pay off the debt accumulated by Ontario hydro, which by the way, was paid off in 2011. Instead of removing the debt retirement charge from our bills, more money was borrowed to fund other Liberal blunders. So, on our bills it appears like the original debt wasn’t yet paid off, and we continue to pay. To add insult to injury, top Ontario Hydro executives, probably the ones responsible for this massive debt in the first place, recently received bonuses to their salaries and extra padding to their already luxurious pension plans.
-and then a nice big delivery charge on top of our usage charges, which you get whether you use the electricity or not. This we found out on a similarly confusing hydro bill from Hydro One who services our cottage in rural Ontario. As our cottage is used only in the summer months (and even then mostly just on weekends) and not at all in the winter, you would think the delivery fee of approximately $80 per month would not apply off season. No such reasoning, we pay the delivery fee every month, even though there is no electricity being used between October and May!
At the end of the list of charges, it shows a clean energy benefit credit! This comes from the Ministry of Energy, currently run by the Liberal government, whose scandals (the cancelled gas plants saga that cost us $1.1 billion for example) we are paying for with the regulatory charge mentioned above. Are you confused yet? Why not just waste less money on the scandals and non-efficient, non-viable programs like another windmill farm that is slated for construction in Chatham, Ontario and charge us less upfront?
If I am complaining about the fees we pay for our home and cottage, what about the companies and organizations whose consumption would be much greater? In comparison, their bills must be staggering! I heard of one curling club that had to close its doors because it could not cover the increased cost of hydro with its membership dues; I have no doubt many other such organizations will be doing the same.
I also feel bad for the many pensioners in Ontario who are living on a fixed income. Should they have to choose between paying for electricity and buying groceries? I am not far from the fixed income days myself; what was supposed to be a comfortable, relaxing, well-deserved retirement may be a little more stressful than planned…