Government Helps Keep Energy Costs Low for Families, Small Businesses and FarmersPublished on October 14, 2020
Province keeps electricity rates stable and provides customers with more choice
The government 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.
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 comprised 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.
"As we recover from COVID-19, our government remains focused on supporting Ontarians by keeping the cost of electricity affordable," the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines said in conjunction with the announcement. "We are proud to offer the people of Ontario more options and the flexibility to choose between TOU and tiered pricing."
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 re-assess 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; and,
- 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.
"Our government continues to look for ways to support Ontarians in need," added the Associate Minister of Energy. "The initiatives announced today will help ensure Ontario families and businesses can manage their electricity bills, while keeping our energy system strong and reliable."
The province will also introduce on-bill messaging in 2021 that will explain Ontario's rate mitigation programs and how customers are benefiting from Hydro One earnings.
- On October 9, the Ontario government announced additional public health measures in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region and will make available $300 million to assist significantly affected businesses with fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills.
- The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) sets both time-of-use and tiered rates as part of the Regulated Price Plan (RPP). RPP rates are updated twice a year, in May and November. Today the OEB reported the new rates coming into effect on November 1, 2020.
- Multi-use complex consumers that are currently receiving the OER under grandfathering provisions will now continue to receive the rebate until April 30, 2021. The grandfathering period was previously slated to end on October 31, 2020.
- Residential consumers must apply to CEAP, and small businesses and charitable organizations must apply to CEAP for Small Business (CEAP-SB) through their local electricity and/or natural gas utility.
- The 2021-24 CDM Framework governs the Independent Electricity System Operator's (IESO) Save on Energy programs for businesses, institutional customers, income-eligible residential customers and on-reserve First Nations communities. Save on Energy programs provide energy-efficiency opportunities and support Ontario families and businesses looking to make upgrades to lower electricity costs.
- The Energy Affordability Program (EAP) will provide differing levels of support based on income eligibility. Participants could receive a free professional energy assessment and installation of in-home electricity savings measures or an energy savings kit.
- For on-reserve First Nations communities, programs under the CDM Interim Framework that were suspended due to COVID-19 will be relaunched, to allow time for projects to be completed. Ontario's First Nations communities will be engaged in Fall 2020 to inform the development of new programs that will build on the success of previous programs.