Electricity: The choice is yours

On June 1, 2020, the Ontario government announced that it intends to introduce a new customer choice rate optionality plan for residential and small commercial consumers who pay time-of-use (TOU) electricity rates under the Regulated Price Plan (RPP). This plan will allow existing and new customers to choose which RPP rate design they would like to be billed: either TOU pricing or tiered rates, starting as early as November 1, 2020. 

Currently, the province’s flat COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8 cents per kWh remains in effect until October 31, 2020.

What does this mean for me?

To paraphrase Bob Dylan, “the times (of use) they are a-changin’”

In short, this means that in just a few weeks, you will be able to choose to either stay on the current TOU pricing, where you pay a different rate depending on the time of day that you consume electricity (TOU pricing has three periods: on-peak, when energy demand and cost is high, mid-peak, when energy demand and cost is moderate, and off-peak, when energy demand and cost is low), or you can choose to move to tiered rates. With tiered rates, your consumption is separated into two price tiers set by the Ontario Energy Board. Customers are charged one lower rate until they reach a set monthly kilowatt-hour (kWh) limit, while electricity consumed in excess of this threshold will be priced at a higher rate.

Until more details are released by the Province, our goal is to keep our customers front and centre, and help prepare you to make an informed decision based on your own lifestyle and energy needs when that time comes.

Knowledge is power

To better understand the potential impacts of a rate design versus another to your bill, it’s important to understand how both rate designs work, but also how your day-to-day habits influence your overall energy consumption and ultimately, your energy costs.

Electricity is probably the least obvious “thing” we consume on a daily basis when compared to buying groceries, coffee, or putting gas in the car, so being knowledgeable about when and how much electricity you use is a good first step. Thankfully, you have access to your hourly electricity consumption data history on MyAccount.

Reviewing this information can help guide you in understanding if you and/or your family routinely practice taking advantage of the off-peak or mid-peak TOU periods. Perhaps you don’t base your activities on TOU periods or costs at all; choosing to focus on your monthly amount or total consumption instead.

Either way, the information contained in MyAccount should prove to be a good indicator of your consumption habits and help point you in the right direction for which pricing model is best for you.

Your house, your rules

Life hasn’t been the same since COVID-19, and we understand that makes choosing the right electricity rate plan a bit more complex. Some factors to consider include the habits, age and number of people in your household, and whether you anticipate to be working from home or at your place of work over the winter months or foreseeable future.

Whether you’re a post-secondary student pulling all-nighters, a sociable single, a new family spending more time at home with small children, or an active senior citizen; your electricity needs and habits will be unique to you. As a small business owner, the type of business and your hours of operation are factors you’ll want to consider.

It’s your house (or business) and your rules. With electricity, there is no one-size fits all.

What do I do now?

Start by logging into MyAccount and reviewing your consumption history.

If you wish to remain on TOU, there will be no action required. You will simply be billed as you have always been. If you elect to move to tiered rates, there will be an online election form that you’ll need to submit starting October 13, 2020. Electricity rates for winter time-of-use or tiered rates, as well as additional tools to help you make the decision that is right for you, are expected to be released by the Ontario Energy Board in the coming weeks.

Rest assured, we will communicate with you once we have more information and will ensure you have the opportunity to make this important choice. In the meantime, find energy saving tips to help manage your home energy use, and keep up to date by checking our dedicated web page here.

No matter what you decide, Hydro Ottawa will continue to provide the safe and reliable delivery of electricity you’ve come to expect. The times they are(n’t) a-changin’ in that regard.

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