On Tuesday, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) announced new electricity prices for households and small businesses, effective November 1, under the Regulated Price Plan (RPP). The winter Time-of-Use (TOU) hours and the winter Tier threshold for residential customers, which were maintained for the summer 2020 period, will remain in effect on November 1.
The total bill for a typical residential customer who uses 700 kWh per month will increase by about $2.24 or 1.97%, after accounting for the bill relief provided by the Ontario Electricity Rebate (OER), a total (pre-tax) bill credit that appears at the bottom of electricity bills. The Ontario government has increased that rebate from 31.8% to 33.2% effective November 1, 2020.
Customers eligible for the Ontario Electricity Rebate (OER) will automatically receive a 33.2% reduction off their energy bill when new electricity rates for Regulated Price Plan (RPP) customers come into effect November 1, 2020. At the same time, customers paying Time-of-Use (TOU) rates under the RPP will also have the option to switch to tiered rate pricing. Time-of-use electricity rates vary by time of day and are composed of three different rate periods of off-peak, mid-peak and on-peak pricing.
Tiered electricity rates provide customers with a set rate for electricity up to a certain level of consumption. A customer can use a certain amount of energy each month at a lower rate. Once that limit is exceeded, the rate goes up.
The province has also revised the eligibility requirements for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) and the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB). Households, small businesses and charitable organizations who made partial payments on amounts owing before the COVID-19 emergency period are now eligible for the CEAP and CEAP-SB one-time on-bill credit to help pay down electricity bill debt.
The expanded eligibility also eliminates the requirement for residential consumers to be unemployed when applying for CEAP. Local utilities will reassess previously rejected applications and start accepting new applications on October 16, 2020.
Ontario is also introducing a new streamlined Energy Affordability Program (EAP) for households struggling to pay their electricity bills. Beginning the week of January 4, 2021, EAP will:
- Provide free electricity saving measures to help participating households manage their electricity-use and lower their electricity costs by up to $1,000 per year
- Tailor energy-efficiency upgrades based on household income, home heating system, location, and an energy needs assessment
- Simplify access to new and updated electricity saving measures through a single program that replaces the Affordability Fund Trust and Home Assistance Program, which are ending in 2020
The Energy Affordability Program is part of Ontario’s new 2021-2024 electricity Conservation Demand Management (CDM) Framework, which also offers energy-efficiency programs for on-reserve First Nations consumers and Ontario business and industrial consumers to increase competitiveness and lower electricity costs. The new Framework will come into force January 1, 2021, immediately following the end of the current Interim Framework on December 31, 2020.
The Ontario government says it is helping to keep the cost of energy low for families, small businesses and farmers by keeping electricity rates stable and providing customers with more choice and energy assistance programs.