Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
Thunder Bay Hydro`s Tim Wilson says online tracking of residential energy use can be an eye-opener.
On Thursday Thunder Bay Hydro unveiled MyTBHydro, a tool available on their website that can break down electricity to the hour to help customers better understand conservation efforts and what they might be able to do to cut their monthly or bi-monthly bills.
Signing up for the site will also allow for paperless billing, something many customers had been asking for, said Tim Wilson, the utility’s vice-president of customer and information services.
“Our hope is that we get about 3,000 customer sign-ups,” Wilson said. “Quite easily, with about a thousand, we’ll easily pay for the capital costs and the ongoing operating costs of the system.”
Wilson added Thunder Bay Hydro has conducted a number of customer surveys over the past seven or eight years. The topic that continues to come up is customers wanting more online access to their account.
While other utilities, like Union Gas, have offered online billing and usage tracking for several years, Thunder Bay Hydro never took the step.
Until now, Wilson said.
“We purposely kind of hesitated on that kind of a move for a number of years, just to make sure we understood exactly what customers wanted,” he said.
“Was it paying online, was it account access, was it access to electricity usage? And with all the conservation programs that the province has us offering at this time, we felt this was a good opportunity to really marry access to electricity usage to help customers have a better understanding of energy use within their home and give them the access at that point. It was the right time.”
The sign-up process is an easy one, Wilson added.
A customer must have a valid email address and their current bill to set up online, where the public will be asked to create a password-protected account.
It can also be done in person at Thunder Bay Hydro’s Cumberland Street payment office.
“We’ll run you through a little bit of security questioning on your account and then you’re in. It’s really easy to navigate around. We’ve tested it a number of times to see what the energy use is like in our home and it’s interesting to see. It becomes very obvious and apparent to you as a user,” Wilson said.
Thunder Bay Hydro’s Eileen Dias said there’s another sign-up option available.
“Another thing you can do is bring some proper ID to the Home Show this weekend and we’ll sign you up,” she said.