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Hydro rates increasing

Options available for struggling residents

Residents and businesses will see a two per cent increase on their electricity bills starting Nov. 1.

For residents, the increase equates to about $2.24 (or 1.97 per cent) for a typical customer using 700 kWh per month, after accounting for the bill relief provided by the Ontario Electricity Rebate, a total (pre-tax) bill credit that appears at the bottom of electricity bills, according to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).

The OEB announced the new electricity prices for households and small businesses under the Regulated Price Plan (RPP).

The winter Time-of-Use (TOU) hours and the winter Tier threshold for residential customers, which were maintained throughout the summer, will remain in effect.

In response to the increase, the OEB is also introducing new Pricing Plan Choices for customers. Effective Nov. 1, eligible customers on the RPP will be able to choose between paying Time of Use or Tiered Pricing rates.

Oshawa PUC President Ivano Labricciosa says he is pleased with this decision, as it gives residents a choice between two price plans.

“These changes give our customers more control over how they manage their electricity bill and empowers them to make the right choice to best fit their personal circumstances; be it a family or a small business,” he says.

While customers on TOU pricing can choose to switch plans now, the change won’t take effect until Nov. 1.

Under TOU pricing, customers are charged based on the day of the week and time of day electricity is used.

“This gives customers the option to shift higher electricity-use activities – such as laundry or running the dishwasher – to off-peak periods, which are charged at a lower rate,” states the OEB.

TOU price periods include on-peak, mid-peak and off-peak, and typically changes twice a year – May 1 and Nov. 1 – and are set by the OEB.

Starting Nov. 1, TOU rates for on-peak periods will be 21.7 cents/kWh, mid-peak periods will be 15 cents/kWh, and off-peak will be 10.5 cents/kWh.

TOU customers are currently paying the COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8 cents/kWh for all price periods.

Tiered rates separates electricity consumption into two price tiers – one rate for electricity usage up to a certain amount of consumption per month, and a higher rate for electricity used above that amount.

The price threshold, set by the OEB, typically changes twice a year for residential customers.

Starting Nov. 1, for residential customers, Tier 1 (up to 1,000 kWh/month) will be 12.6 cents/kWh, and Tier 2 (more than 1,000 kWh/month) will be 14.6 cents/kWh.

Tier 1 (up to 750 kWh/month) for non-residential customers will be 12.6 cents/kWh, and 14.6 cents/kWh for Tier 2.

In response to the increase, the province has announced its continued support 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 will automatically receive a 33.2 per cent reduction off their energy bill when the new electricity rates for RPP customers come into effect, up from 31.8 per cent.

“As we recover from COVID-19, our government remains focused on supporting Ontarians by keeping the cost of electricity affordable,” says Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. “We are proud to offer the people of Ontario more options and the flexibility to choose between TOU and tiered pricing.”

Support for residential, small business and charitable organizations that are struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of the pandemic is also available through the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program and COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business, which are funded by the province.

Labricciosa acknowledges there are still some who are struggling to pay their bills due to the pandemic.

“We are here to work with you and we have implemented the Oshawa Power Compassion Fund to help residential customers,” he says. “We are proud to have launched this one of a kind program developed for our customers.”

He adds there is also the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program, and the COVID-19 Small Business Energy Assistance Program to help Oshawa residents and small businesses.

“We are encouraging people to apply for these programs and to contact us to make any arrangement if they are in need. We will work with them to find the program that best works for them,” he says.

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