What to expect after switching electricity rate plans: Answering your top questions

Back in October 2020, the Ontario government released two electricity rate options for residential and small business customers (who are billed under the provincial Regulated Price Plan) to choose from: time-of-use (TOU) rates and tiered rates. The Customer Choice program means that customers now have the option to choose the electricity rate plan that best meets their lifestyle and energy needs.

Whether this is the first time you’re learning about your choice in the matter, or you’ve already made the switch, here are the answers to the top questions we’ve received to help bring peace of mind and understanding as you enter what may feel like new territory:

1) How will I know if I should switch rate plans?

Because customer electricity consumption and behaviours are subject to change, the best judge for determining which rate plan is best for you and when is...you!

While electricity distributors are not in a position to specifically advise you one way or the other, we have several resources that we hope will help you make an informed decision, and feel in charge of your billing.

First things first, here are the key ingredients you’ll need to assess your best rate plan option:

  • *Current electricity rates: The most up-to-date information on TOU and tiered rates, as well as current rate periods (i.e. summer vs winter) can be found here.
  • Your average total monthly electricity consumption (kWh) - Customers can log-in to their MyAccount customer portal to see a historical overview of their usage.
  • An understanding of tiered rate thresholds and TOU daily periods (i.e. on/mid/off-peak times).
  • The time of day that you consume the most electricity (and how that could change). Customers can download their hourly consumption through MyAccount by using the “Download My Data” feature under the “Usage” menu.

Overwhelmed? We get it - it’s a lot to take in. We also recommend using the Ontario Electricity Board’s (OEB) online bill calculator to compare *current TOU versus tiered pricing by inputting your electricity usage patterns. This tool simplifies the process considerably.

For even more resources to help you decide if it’s time to switch, visit the OEB’s guide on choosing your electricity price plan at oeb.ca/choice.

*Please note: On February 10, 2021, , the provincial government announced that to further support Ontarians during the province-wide lockdown resulting from the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, the temporary fixed rate of 8.5¢/kWh for all time-of-use and tiered customers will be extended until end of day on February 22, 2021. Once the fixed 8.5 ¢/kWh price expires, customers will start to pay the RPP prices that were set by the Ontario Energy Board on December 15, 2020.

2) For tiered rates, are the thresholds the same during winter and summer?

For residential customers, there are different thresholds during the winter and summer periods. This is outlined in more detail on the OEB’s website here under the “About Tiered Prices” section. 

For reference, in the winter period (November 1 – April 30), the Tier 1 monthly threshold for residential customers is 1,000 kWh. In the summer (May 1 – October 31), the Tier 1 threshold is 600 kWh.

For small business customers, the Tier 1 threshold is 750 kWh all year round.

The good news is that you can switch rate plans at any time, so you can strategize which rate plan is best for you based on the season.

Please note: winter and summer thresholds have been subject to change by the provincial government since the onset of COVID-19. To review the current (and historical) thresholds in effect, please visit the OEB’s website.

3) Now that I’m on tiered rates, why can't I see the time-of-use breakdown on my bill anymore?

Since tiered rates are charged based on your total monthly consumption instead of the time of day when you consumed electricity, your bill will no longer display on/mid/off-peak periods. Instead, it will show a breakdown of your monthly consumption (i.e. for Tier 1, and Tier 2 should you surpass the threshold).

That being said, you can still download your hourly consumption via MyAccount at any time (by using the “Download My Data” feature under the “Usage” menu).

4) I was approved for [tiered rates / TOU rates] but it isn't reflected on my bill yet. Why?

Hang tight! This process takes time.

Based on the OEB’s guidelines for the Customer Choice program, a switch from TOU to tiered prices (or vice versa) may only take effect at the start of a billing cycle. However, the start and end time for a billing cycle is unique to every customer. You can get an idea of your upcoming billing cycle dates by reviewing your most recent electricity bill on MyAccount.

Where you are in your billing cycle when you apply to switch rate plans can influence how soon the switch will take place. Likewise, how you apply also makes a big difference for processing times. The fastest way to apply is through your MyAccount customer portal. This automates the process and can enable your switch to occur as soon as the next day (should that also happen to be the start of your next billing period). After you submit your request, you will receive a confirmation that includes an estimated date for it to take effect.

Alternatively, if you submit your request via email or mail, it must be received at least 10 business days before the start of your next billing period in order to be reflected on your next bill. If this window is missed, the switch won’t take effect until the following bill.

Within MyAccount, you will continue to see your existing rate plan until your new plan is in effect.

5) I accidentally switched back to time-of-use, can you keep me on tiered rates? (or vice-versa)

Once a request to switch rate plan has been made, we cannot cancel it until after it has finished processing. You will know that the process is complete upon receiving your first bill under your new rate plan. Once this happens, you will have the ability to submit a new request.

As long as the two rate plans (TOU and tiered rates) are available, you will always have the option to switch between them. However, keep in mind that the switch could take up to two billing periods (see question 4 above).

Reviewing the shifting electricity rates - as set by the Ontario government - along with your consumption habits can be a daunting task, but we hope that these answers will empower you to optimize your billing based on your lifestyle and electricity needs all year long.

Still have questions regarding our Customer Choice program? Please visit our FAQ page.

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