Electricity and Novel Coronavirus (#covid19)

Updated: Mar 24

This is not legal advice and this does not contain a guarantee, warranty or prediction in outcome. This is relevant in Ontario only. I am not affiliated with any of the links shared in this post. I am not writing much at this time due to the current circumstances.


Electricity and Novel Coronavirus or #covid19

In Ontario, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) regulates all electricity transmitters and distributors in the public interest. Among other things, the OEB establishes rates and prices that are reasonable to consumers.


In 2017, the OEB banned licensed electricity distributers from disconnecting residential customers for non-payment during the winter. Winter includes November 15 to April 30.


You may be eligible for this program if you are a residential customer being served by a licensed electricity distributer. Generally, your bill determines who your utility provider is but if you are unsure, you can visit the IESO’s website: here.


On March 1, 2020, the OEB established new rules governing this program based on customer feedback. Some of those rules can be viewed here.


If you are concerned about covering your electricity bill and payment following certain closures during the current health situation at this time, you should contact your electricity provider. These rules do not mean you are free to not pay your bill; you must remain in contact with your provider.


Hydro One set up a special page for this time. You can view that here.


As at March 19, 2020, the OEB released the following decision (here), emphasis added:


"The Ontario Energy Board (OEB), of its own motion, has initiated this proceeding to amend the licences of all electricity distributors in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. As set out in this Decision and Order, the amendments extend the current prohibition against the disconnection of residential customers by reason of non-payment through July 31, 2020; establish a similar prohibition against the disconnection of all other low-volume consumers by reason of non-payment through July 31, 2020; and address related matters."


As at March 20, 2020 the OEB provided the following information for consumers, as taken from their website (here):

For consumers:

  • Time-of-use pricing We’ve received many requests about lowering electricity prices during this unprecedented time. The Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines is looking at programs and policies to support electricity customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect that information will be made available in the coming days.

  • Electricity disconnection ban extended On March 19, 2020, the OEB extended the winter ban on electricity disconnections for non-payment for all residential customers to July 31, 2020. Low-volume, small business customers will now also be protected by the ban. In addition, the OEB is calling on distributors to be more flexible on arrears payment arrangements.

  • Low-income programs There are programs available to help low-income consumers. Find out more at oeb.ca/billhelp

Please contact the OEB directly through the links available here.


As at March 24, 2020, the Globe and Mail reported that the OEB will move to "current off-peak overnight and weekend charges of 10.1 cents per kilowatt hour" (Globe, 2020)



Sources:

© 2019 - 2020 by Naomi Sayers

This website and associated materials do not contain legal advice and does not contain a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of any legal matter. Unsolicited information will not be protected by lawyer-client privilege.

Photo Credit: Jessica Blaine Smith

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