Scarborough homeowner headed to court over Toronto Hydro bill


SLM
#1
Scarborough homeowner headed to court over Toronto Hydro bill


Stephen Taylor, 61, in his Scarborough home on Jan. 9, 2014. He's been without electricity for 10 months in a dispute with Toronto Hydro. (Dave Thomas/Toronto Sun)


TORONTO - Stephen Taylor would rather continue living in his frozen house and face jail time than pay his “inflated and unfair” $14,532 Toronto Hydro bill.
It would be, after all, warmer inside a cell.
Needless to say, after 10 months without electricity in his Scarborough bungalow, he has been in his own form of prison.
You can tell already this is a wild story of a self-described stubborn homeowner who says Toronto Hydro “is trying to make an example of me.”
But, he says, he will “not back down because I did nothing wrong.”
However, Toronto Hydro says he has done something wrong. And Toronto Police charged him with a number of offences including theft over $5,000 for allegedly stealing power.
In this case, hell has frozen over on Pandora Circle, in the Lawrence Ave. and Bellamy Rd. area.
This has been a cold winter for a lot of Toronto home owners but nothing like Taylor’s frigid abode of 14 years which feels more like a dark tomb, even in the middle of day.
It’s so cold in his house there is no need to plug in the refrigerator or freezer. Everything in there is frozen.
If the pipes burst, the water would freeze quickly into a skating rink in his living room.
In his case, it’s often actually warmer outside.
He admits it was strange to see a lot of his neighbours during the power outage during the Christmas ice storm go through the same experience he has been facing.
“I felt for them,” he said. “But I understood.”
The difference was after a week, their power was restored.
His was not.
The 61-year-old retired teacher’s personal drama continues.
“It is a nightmare and I am suffering,” he said in an interview. “All the plants have died and I may be next. “
It all started last March when Toronto Hydro workers came to install a new “smart meter” in his basement.
“I had no problem with that,” said Taylor. “But then a week later they came to me and said the old panel had run slow and that I owed them more than
$14,000 in back unpaid hydro.”
He said he was “in shock” and “of course” refused to pay it.
“I remember somebody saying to me ‘Have a good weekend’ with a chuckle and then the next week Toronto Police came here and took me away in handcuffs.”
He said he remembers Hydro people “laughing” at him.
Saying he has no criminal record and “wouldn’t even know how to tamper with the meter,” Taylor said he thinks it was more about “pay back” for not paying the money than it was that he did anything wrong.
Either way he is vowing to fight his charges. He goes back to court in May.
“I have been offered a plea deal to make it go away but as far as I am concerned this case is going to trial,” he claims. “I want to clear my name and find out if this has ever happened to anybody else.”
However Toronto Hydro spokesperson Tanya Bruckmueller says “there is more to this story” that is “before courts” which includes evidence the hydro meter had been “tampered” with.
My feeling is that someone shouldn’t be punished until they’ve been proven guilty of a crime.
It does not seem humane to me to keep hydro from a house in which someone could die.
I spoke to Mayor Rob Ford about this, who has talked with Taylor personally.
The mayor said he would see if Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines could go out with him and see the man and try to work something out to everyone’s satisfaction.
My suggestion is to turn on his power at least until he is convicted of a crime.
“They think I am a murderer,” said Taylor. “But I am just a guy who didn’t think he should pay a $14,000 hydro bill.”
Whatever the truth is, it can’t be worth it, to see someone’s life endangered.
Taylor has already fought off one bought of pneumonia.
But Bruckmeuller tells me they have tried to “work things out” with Taylor before but with no success.
“I am Scottish and I am stubborn,” admits Taylor.
He says the solution is simple:
“Drop the charges, turn on his power (and) apoligize for putting me through this

Scarborough homeowner headed to court over Toronto Hydro bill | Toronto & GTA | News | Toronto Sun

I'm sure there is far more to this story than the man is letting on. Police handcuff you for delinquent utility bills? I rather doubt it. But, for the sake of argument let's say he's telling the truth and did not tamper with his meter, perhaps it was the previous owner, it seems really odd that Hydro wouldn't notice his bill was upwards of $1000 less per year than it should have been? There usually is only so much fluctuation from house to house. I mean, for fourteen years they noticed nothing amiss? For some reason I also find this rather dubious.
 
DaSleeper
#2
I notice that his meter is inside the house.......If the wire on the seal on that meter was broken the most common way to steal electricity, is to put two jumper wires inline in the 4 brackets and snap the meter back in.....that would reduce your hydro by half.
When they replace a meter, slight burn marks where the jumpers were in place might show up......(Broken seal, burn marks) Those hydro guys aren't dumb.
 
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