Suspension of Time-Of-Use (TOU) Electricity Rates during COVID-19 Outbreak

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Notice type
Posted by
Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines
Transferred to
Ministry of Energy
Bulletin posted
Last updated

This notice is for informational purposes only. There is no requirement to consult on this initiative on the Environmental Registry of Ontario. Learn more about the types of notices on the registry.

Bulletin summary

On March 24, 2020, the government set electricity prices for Time-Of-Use (TOU) customers at the off-peak TOU electricity rate of 10.1 cents per kilowatt hour for all periods of the day, seven days a week, until May 7, 2020. On May 6, 2020, the government announced its intention to extend the TOU off-peak rate until May 31, 2020.

Why consultation isn't required

The implementation of TOU off-peak rates was done quickly to provide immediate electricity relief during the COVID-19 outbreak and to respond to the social distancing policies that were put in place.

Because the regulation was urgently needed to respond to the state of emergency in Ontario, it was not feasible for the Minister to delay the regulation by consulting through the Environmental Registry.

Due to social distancing policies, and work from home practices, consumers can expect to use more electricity during mid-peak and on-peak times between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm on weekdays. Consulting on this change through the Environmental Registry would have delayed the implementation of the TOU off-peak rate, which would have required Ontario’s TOU customers to pay the higher mid-peak and on-peak TOU rates during the day.

We are posting this information notice (Bulletin) because the ministry continues to be committed to transparency and informing the public during the declared emergency.

Bulletin details

On March 17, 2020, the Government of Ontario made an order declaring an emergency (the “Emergency Declaration”) under section 7.0.1 (1) the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, 1990 to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

As a result of the emergency, the government instituted social distancing policies, including school and non-essential business closures and work from home policies. The government recognized that these policies would result in increased electricity use during the day for residential customers, and that small businesses and farms, whether they are open or closed, continued to have electricity costs and needed help.

During the week of March 16, 2020, there were a steady stream of customer requests to provide electricity relief from TOU prices while social distancing policies were in effect. There were numerous media articles, sustained social media posts, direct messages to government, and more than 10 online petitions that expressed a public desire to switch to off-peak TOU rates during COVID-19 social distancing.

On March 24, 2020, the government responded by suspending TOU rates, holding electricity prices to the lowest rate, known as the off-peak rate, of 10.1 cents per kilowatt hour, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for an intended 45-day period. This off-peak price period was enabled by Emergency Order (Ontario Regulation 80/20) made under subsection 7.0.2(4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, 1990

The government worked with the Ontario Energy Board, the Independent Electricity System Operator and Local Distribution Companies (LDCs) to implement the change quickly to provide immediate electricity bill relief to families and businesses impacted by COVID-19. The off-peak rate was intended to appear on the first electricity bill TOU customers received after the Order was put in place, or retroactively on future bills if not feasible based on customer billing cycles and/or LDC implementation.

On April 14, 2020, the government extended the Emergency Declaration to May 12, 2020, to continue the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak. On May 6, 2020 the government announced its intention to extend the off-peak TOU rate to the end of day on May 31, 2020, to continue to provide support to residential, farm and small business TOU customers.

A typical residential TOU electricity customer with a monthly consumption of 700 kWh is expected to see a bill reduction of around $16 on their monthly bill, depending on their total consumption and consumption behaviours, as a result of this initiative.

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