Having trouble paying your electricity bills? Ontarians will pay less starting today | Radio-Canada News

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Ontarians struggling with the rising cost of living may notice something unusual when they check their next electricity bill.

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) announced lower electricity costs for residential and small business customers, effective Tuesday. Depending on the rate plan, people will see price drops of up to two cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).

The drop in prices is mostly due to market changes, says Joel MacDonald, founder of, a website that compares energy prices.

“The grid’s peak demand is during the summer … typically it’s powered by air conditioners,” MacDonald said.

“So it would be typical to see a slightly lower rate during the winter than during the summer.”

MacDonald says the drop isn’t significant compared to last winter’s drop in Ontario, but he points out that other provinces are raising their rates – for example, Albertans are seeing increases ranging from 3 cents to 28 cents the kWh.

A table shows the new prices per kilowatt-hour for time-of-use and tiered plans. (Ontario Energy Board)

Prices for time-of-use and tiered packages will drop, according to the province’s electricity and natural gas regulator. This change will remain in effect until the end of April next year.

The OEB announced reductions to the Time of Use (TOU) plan, where customers are charged different amounts depending on when they use electricity, at all levels. Customers using weekday electricity during peak hours (7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) will now pay 15.1 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), which is down from the price of last winter of 17.0 cents per kWh.

The mid-peak rate (weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) went from 11.3 cents to 10.2 cents per kWh. The off-peak rate (weekdays from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and all day on weekends and holidays) also fell to 7.4 cents from 8.2 cents per kWh.

Tiered pricing, where customers pay a flat rate for the first 1,000 kWh during the winter months and a higher rate if they go over that amount, also fell by just over a cent per kWh.

MacDonald says now is a good time for Ontarians to reassess whether they want to be on a TOU or a tiered plan.

Savings depend on plan type

Ontario introduced smart meters in 2005, MacDonald says, which not only measure the amount of electricity consumed, but also the time of day the electricity is used.

He credits these meters with reducing the amount of electricity used by Ontarians since their introduction.

However, during the first year of the pandemic, the OEB gave residential and small business customers the option of being billed by TOU or by tiered plans.

MacDonald says tiered plans make more sense for most customers.

Joel MacDonald, founder of energy comparison site, says tiered rate plans will save most households more. (Submitted by Joel MacDonald)

“For the time-of-use system to provide savings over the tiered system – assuming an average household – you would need to use more than 75% of your consumption during the period off peak.”

He says that figure is difficult to achieve because standard homes have base load consumption, driven by various appliances being on all the time.

With the tiered system charging 8.7 cents per kWh (effective Tuesday), MacDonald says savings are easier because the average household does not exceed the 1,000 kWh threshold needed to incur a higher rate.

“We know the average household uses 750 kWh.”

MacDonald says that according to the OEB, the average consumer who uses 60% of their electricity during off-peak hours will save 8% by switching to the tiered system.

Many Ontarians are still struggling with soaring costs

Even with some short-term savings, many Ontarians are still unable to pay their electricity bills.

“A lot of people are feeling the pressure right now with the rising prices of everything from groceries to gas,” said Neftali Bonilla of the Neighborhood Information Post, an organization that connects low-income people with support services.

“So it’s either they buy groceries or they pay their energy bill,” said Bonilla, who coordinates the organization’s energy assistance program.

He says many people, including seniors, young adults and single parents, have come to his group asking for help in the form of grant programs.

One such program, the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP), allows people to apply for assistance if they are behind on their energy bill and receive up to $1,000 to help pay for it.

Bonilla says they’ve seen huge increases in applicants.

“In 2021, we were able to help 411 households for the LEAP program,” he said.

“So far this year, from January to September, we have helped 873… For the month of October alone, we are looking at helping probably around 100 households.”

But MacDonald says Ontarians will never have to worry about having their electricity cut off during the winter because there is a disconnection ban between Nov. 15 and April 30.

“If you’re struggling with these exceptionally high bills, know that while it may hurt your credit, you won’t have anything offline until April 30.”

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