Like a helium balloon or American anxiety, the cost of electricity is going up. This time last year we were paying 9.71 cents per kwh; today it’s 10.604 cents per kwh. That’s approximately an 8.5 percent increase, and the first of what’s to come.

A great outpouring of bilious speculation has gone into predicting that the final number will look like. For instance, how many organs will it take to boil the kettle. We’ve also all been promised that by way of special political magic, the cost will be controlled and kept at a rate we can afford, so a first born max.

Unfortunately, this speculation and these political promises both miss the point, it doesn’t matter how much we can afford to pay, the important consideration is how much are we willing to pay. Once that line is crossed, the upper and middle income families will have options, they will be able to protect themselves.

They will be able to invest in alternative heating sources, heat pumps, geothermal, a reinvestment in oil furnaces, propane, and wood stoves. These families will be able to make their homes more energy efficient with better windows, more insulation, and more efficient appliances, fixtures, and fittings. And they will be able to generate their own electricity by installing solar panels and even personal wind turbines.

All of these investments are long term investments, so once the price of power crosses the line of what we are willing to pay, there is no going back, there will be a withdrawal from the public grid which will last 20 years or more. I personally know those who have already installed solar panels and wind turbines at properties in the country, it really isn’t too big of a stretch to see these sources of electricity entering the urban environment.

“What’s wrong with that?” you may be asking, “isn’t it good to use less?” Well yes and no. For one it’s unlikely that we would use less energy, just less electricity. We would be pushed back into old energy habits of oil, propane, and wood, but that’s not the primary concern. The real problem is in who wouldn’t be able protect themselves, i.e, who would be left holding the increasingly hefty bag. Lower income families, students, and seniors won’t be able to protect themselves. The province will be left still struggling to pay for infrastructure, the paradox of higher and higher prices for every kilowatt hour of electricity, but with lower and lower generated revenues, caught in a negative feedback loop. No amount of antidepressants would make this ok, it would be an unmitigated disaster and it wouldn’t end there.

The dominoes would continue to fall, the province would still need to pay its bills, and after some time of floundering with escalating energy prices, they would look farther afield which always means increasing taxes. Those who were left holding the energy bag and who can least afford it would be hit again. Life would quickly become grim.

How much are you willing to pay for electricity? And how much do you think your neighbours are willing to pay? What we need is more customers, not higher prices. Now is the time to make your voices heard and here’s hoping that that helium balloon pops sooner rather than later.