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Glossary

Adjusted Usage or Loss Factor

It is normal for a small amount of power to be lost as it travels over power lines to your home or business. In calculating your electricity costs for the billing period, Essex Powerlines multiplies your electricity cost by an adjustment factor that is approved by the Ontario Energy Board. The charges for losses are included on the Delivery line of your bill. The current Loss Factor rate is 1.0355.

Ampere

Ampere is a unit of electric current.

Auto Recloser

An auto recloser is a class of switchgear that is designed to detect and interrupt momentary faults such as a lightning strike or tree branch contact on the power lines. The circuit breaker “automatically” recloses to restore power when the lines are cleared of obstructions, avoiding prolonged power outages. 

Bill 35

Energy Competition Act, 1998
This provincial statute enacted the Electricity Act, 1998 and the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998. These statutes set the legal framework for restructuring Ontario Hydro into successor organizations, commercialized the distribution industry, and opened the competitive wholesale market. The electricity sector involves an extensive framework of legislation, regulations, codes, and oversight mechanisms.

Current

A current is a flow of electrical charge, typically measured in amperes (amps).

Distribution System

A distribution system is a network of overhead transmission lines, underground cables, and transformers that carry small amounts of power to loads in medium and low voltage levels

Electricity

A form of energy associated with the movement of electrons and protons. Electricity is very difficult to store, and so it must be used as it is produced. Electricity markets are consequently much more complex, and are inherently subject to more volatility than markets for storable commodities such as natural gas, oil, or grain. 

Hourly Spot Price

Wholesale sellers (generators) submit offers and wholesale buyers (loads) submit bids for electricity in different quantities and prices for each hour. The IESO calculates the spot price by balancing the supply of electricity with demand. As demand increases, or supply decreases, buyers submit higher bids, which raise the spot price. As demand falls, or supply increases, only less expensive offers from sellers are accepted, and prices drop. Most residential customers do not purchase electricity according to the Hourly Spot Price, which is highly volatile. Rather, these customers purchases electricity according to the Regulated Price Plan or through a contract with a Retailer.

Electrical Safety Authority (ESA)

The Electrical Safety Authority is an administrative authority mandated by the Government of Ontario to enhance public electrical safety in the province. They are a safety regulator and advocate.

Electricity Distributor Association (EDA)

The Electricity Distributor Association focuses on the issues and needs of the local electrical utilities, focusing on legislation, market rules, and regulation. 

Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO)

Formerly the Independent Market Operator (IMO), the IESO is responsible for establishing, monitoring, and enforcing reliability standards in the province. All the companies that make up the power system in Ontario must meet the IESO’s standards. It is regulated by the Ontario Energy Board: www.ieso.ca

Kilowatt Hour (kWh)

One kilowatt-hour is equal to 1,000 watt hours. One kilowatt-hour is the equivalent of the energy consumed by 10 light bulbs with 100 watt ratings in the span of 1 hour. 

LDC (Local Distribution Company)

The term used to describe the regulated, licensed distributors such as Essex Powerlines Corporation.

Megawatt (MW)

Megawatt is the equivalent of 1000 kilowatts

Meter (Smart Meter)

A device that records electrical consumption. All of EPL’s customers are connected to a smart meter, which transmits readings automatically and communicates the information to a central system. Smart meters report daily and are used for monitoring and billing. 

Meter Base

A meter base is the meter box surrounding your smart meter. It is typically a rectangular metal box mounted on the outside of your home or business.

Ohm

Ohm is a unit of electrical resistance to the flow of current. 

Ontario Energy Board (OEB)

The Ontario Energy Board is Ontario’s independent energy regulator. The OEB’s mandate and authority come from provincial legislation and the Board reports to the Ontario legislature through the Ministry of Energy.

Pad Mounted Transformer

A pad mounted transformer is ground mounted and is used to “reduce” the primary voltage on the line to a secondary voltage supplied to utility customers. Pad mounted transformers are usually large, green metal boxes. A single transformer may serve many homes in a neighbourhood. 

Pole Mounted Transformer

A pole mounted transformer is mounted on distribution poles. These reduce the primary voltage on the line to a secondary voltage supplied to utility customers. Pole mounted transformers are often cylindrical shaped and can be found at the top of a hydro pole. 

Primary Wire

Primary wires carry high voltage electricity to and from a substation. This voltage is approximately 60 times higher than the voltage that runs through your home’s electrical outlets.

Regulated Price Plan (RPP)

Spot market prices for the electricity commodity fluctuate every hour based on supply and demand. To combat this volatility, the Ontario Energy Board pre-sets rates under the Regulated Price Plan. These rates are set once every 6 months and reflect what the OEB anticipates average commodity rates will be in the coming rate period. The RPP rates are on a dollars per kWh basis. The RPP has a threshold, meaning customers pay more per kWh after using a pre-set amount of electricity. The threshold is reset once every 6 months when rates are reset. This is the default purchasing plan for customers.

Retailer

A company that sells electricity or arranges transactions between or on behalf of electricity generators and customers. This is a financial transaction only, as the physical delivery of electricity is still carried out by distributors. 

Secondary Wire

Secondary wires carry lower voltage electricity to consumers’ homes. Secondary wires are usually made of three conductor wires- two of which are insulated and carry electricity from the transformer, and one that is “neutral” that connects the grounding wire. 

Service Wire

A service wire is the overhead electrical line running from a utility pole to a customer’s building or other premises. 

Spot Market

The real-time market in which the Independent Electricity System Operator (www.ieso.ca) matches supply and demand and sets the spot price for electricity sold in that hour.

Spot Market Price

Wholesale sellers (generators) submit offers and wholesale buyers (loads) submit bids for electricity in different quantities and prices for each hour. The IESO calculates the spot price by balancing the supply of electricity with the demand. As demand increases, buyers submit higher bids, which raise the spot price. As demand falls, or supply increases, only less expensive offers from sellers are accepted, and prices drop. Most residential customers do not purchase electricity according to the Hourly Spot Price, which his highly volatile. Rather, these customers purchase electricity according to the Regulated Price Plan or through a contract with a retailer. 

Standard Supply Service 

This is the default electricity supply and billing relationship between distributors and customers that exists when customers do not choose to contract with electricity retailers.

Time-of-use pricing (TOU)

Time-of-use pricing charges customers different rates at different times of the day. During periods of the day when more customers in the province are consuming electricity, customers are charged more per kWh than periods when there is less consumption. Normally, TOU is divided into 3 segments: off-peak (little provincial demand), mid-peak (moderate provincial demand), and on-peak (high provincial demand). Other segments may be created from time-to-time by the Ontario Energy Board.

Transmission System

The high-voltage network that carries electricity from generators to distribution systems.

Unbundling

Refers to the separation of the details of all charges that go into a customer’s electricity bill- delivery charge, commodity of electricity itself, and regulatory charges. In Ontario’s competitive market, each piece is calculated separately. 

Underground locates

Identification of underground public utility mains and cables. It is important to have underground locates during excavation. If you are planning to dig, please call Ontario One Call at 1-800-400-2255 to determine potential underground locates near you.

Voltage

Voltage is the electric potential to do work. Essentially, it is what makes electricity move. Voltage can be described as the “push” that allows charges to move in an electrical conductor.  The higher the voltage, the more electricity that flows through the conductor.

Watt

A unit of electric power equal to one volt-ampere (watts= volts x amperes). Watts and amperes are indicated on most electrical appliances. For example, a 100 watt light bulb.

Wholesale Market

The market in which electricity is sold to retail companies or provided to distributors, who pass through the price to their customers.