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Customer Choice Rates

Electricity Rate Selection

If you are a residential or small business customer that pays Time-of-Use (TOU) electricity prices, you can choose to switch to Tiered prices beginning November 1, 2020. To switch from TOU to Tiered prices, you must notify Essex Powerlines Corporation by completing an election form, which can be found below. If you have any questions about your pricing options or how to fill out the election form, please contact our Customer Service department at 519-737-6640.

Essex Powerlines Corporation will begin accepting election forms on October 13, 2020. You may wish to continue paying TOU prices for your electricity. In that case, no action is required.

What is Tiered Pricing?

With Tiered prices, you can use a certain amount of electricity each month at a lower price. Once that limit (called a threshold) is exceeded, a higher price applies. For residential customers, the threshold normally changes with the season to reflect changing usage patterns – for example, there are fewer hours of daylight in the winter and some customers use electric heating.

In the winter period (November 1 – April 30), the Tier threshold for residential customers is 1,000 kWh so that households can use more power at the lower price. In the summer period (May 1 – October 31), the Tier threshold for residential customers is 600 kWh.

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

Tiered prices give you the flexibility to use electricity at any time of day at the same price, although that price will change if you exceed the threshold during the month.

What is TOU Pricing?

With TOU prices, the price depends on when you use electricity. You can help manage your electricity costs by shifting your usage to lower price periods when possible.

There are three TOU periods:

  • Off-peak: When demand for electricity is lowest. Ontario households use most of their electricity – nearly two thirds of it – during off-peak hours.
  • Mid-peak: When demand for electricity is moderate. These periods are during the daytime, but not the busiest times of day.
  • On-peak: When demand for electricity is generally higher. These are the busier times of day- generally when people are cooking, starting up their computers and running heaters or air conditioners.

People use electricity differently depending on the season, so the TOU price periods are different in the winter than they are in the summer. For more information, visit our Time of Use page.

What are the new prices set for Time-of-Use vs. Tiered?

The new TOU prices set by the OEB for November 1, 2020 are shown in the table below. The table also shows the hours to which those prices apply:

Winter TOU Price PeriodsNovember 1, 2020 TOU Prices
Off-Peak (Weekdays 7 p.m.-7a.m., all day weekends and holidays)10.5 cents/kWh
Mid-Peak (Weekdays 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.)15.0 cents/kWh
On-Peak (Weekdays 7 a.m.- 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.-7 p.m.)21.7 cents/kWh

The table below shows the new prices for customers paying Tiered prices:

Winter Tier ThresholdsNovember 1, 2020 Tiered Prices
Tier 1Residential- first 1,000 kWh/month
Non-residential- first 750 kWh/month
12.6 cents/kWh
Tier 2Residential- for electricity used above 1,000 kWh/month
Non-residential- for electricity used above 750kWh/month
14.6 cents/kWh

Considering a Switch?

Are you thinking about opting out of TOU prices in favour of Tiered prices? Here are a few things to consider. Make sure you have some of your recent electricity bills handy as you go through the information below. Keep in mind the effect of COVID-19 on your electricity use (for instance, you may be working from home when you normally wouldn’t be). Most of the information you will need is on the Electricity line of your bill.

Do you pay TOU or Tiered prices for your electricity? If you’re unsure, take a look at the Electricity line of your bill. Most residential and small business customers in Ontario pay TOU prices.

How much electricity do you use in a month? If you’re unsure, take a look at the Electricity line on your bill. You might also want to look at the historical usage graph on your bill, which shows your average daily usage over the past 12-month period.

When you use electricity can be another factor in your choice. Historically, the typical residential customer who paid TOU prices has used nearly two thirds of their power at off-peak times- the time when the lowest TOU price applies. The other third of their power used was typically split equally between on- and mid-peak times. Look at the Electricity line of your bill to see how much power you use in each of the three TOU price periods.

As described above, the TOU price periods and Tier thresholds change with the season and are different during the winter (November 1- April 30) and summer (May 1- October 31) periods. Does the amount of electricity you use change based on the season?

If you’re thinking about switching, you should pay close attention to how much electricity you use in a month, because on Tiered pricing the price is higher for every kWh of electricity that you use above the Tier threshold of 1,000kWh in the winter or 600 kWh in the summer. For instance, if you heat your home electronically, your monthly use in the winter may be higher. And the same goes for the summer if you need to run your air conditioner.

With TOU prices, the price depends on when you use electricity. Although the TOU price periods also change with the season, the electricity you use after 7 p.m. every day, and all the time on weekends and holidays, is charged at the lowest price under TOU all year round. 

Are you often home during the day on weekdays, so that shifting your usage is more challenging? Do you have large appliances that you need to run during the day on weekdays? Can you shift more of that usage to nighttime or weekend hours?

If you’re a small business owner, some of the same factors mentioned earlier also apply – how much electricity do you use each month, and when do you use it? Keep in mind that the Tier threshold for small business customers is 750 kWh all year round. And not all small businesses are the same. A large restaurant with several ovens running in the evening may have a very different electricity usage pattern than a small salon that’s only open during the day. So may a dry cleaner compared to a convenience store, or a clothing store compared to a bakery.

To see how your bill might change on Tiered vs. Time-of-Use, visit oeb.ca/calculator.

Rules for TOU Customer Choice

If you’re a TOU customer and don’t want to switch to Tiered prices, you don’t need to do anything. You will stay on TOU prices. If you DO want to switch to Tiered prices, here are the rules that apply. These rules also apply if you later want to switch back to TOU prices.

  • Starting October 13, 2020, Essex Powerlines Corporation must make its election form available on its website, and to any customer that requests it. Essex Powerlines Corporation must accept election forms by email or mail at a minimum.
  • You’ll need to fill out the election form to notify Essex Powerlines Corporation that you want to switch. The form is intended to be as simple as possible in terms of the information that you need to provide. You should have a recent electricity bill on hand when filling out the form, as you will need your utility account number. For help to find the account number and other parts of the electricity bill, see sample TOU and Tiered bills on the Ontario Energy Board’s website at www.oeb.ca/choice.
  • Within 10 business days of receiving your election form, Essex Powerlines Corporation must tell you if your election form can’t be processed and must explain why (for instance, if you’re not authorized to make changes to the account, or the account can’t be verified). 
  • If there are no issues with your election form, Essex Powerlines Corporation has the same 10 business days to let you know when you can expect to start being billed on Tiered prices.
  • A switch from TOU to Tiered prices can only take effect at the start of a billing period. You are generally billed for a 30-day period, and the start and end dates are identified on your electricity bill.
  • Essex Powerlines Corporation must start charging you Tiered prices as of your next billing period after you submit your election form if it receives that form at least 10 business days before that billing period starts, and provided there are no issues with your form (see above).
  • If Essex Powerlines Corporation receives your complete election form less than 10 business days before the start of your next billing period, it might still be able to switch you for your next billing period. But if it can’t do so, it has to start charging you Tiered prices at the start of the next billing period after that.
  • Because a switch in prices can only take effect at the beginning of a billing period, it will take some time between the day you provide your election form and the day you actually start getting charged Tiered prices. 
  • Even if you provide your election form to Essex Powerlines Corporation before the end of October, you’ll very likely pay TOU prices for at least some period of time – between November 1 and the time when your next complete billing period starts (or the billing period after that depending on when you provide your election form).
  • If you have chosen to switch to Tiered prices and later decide you want to go back to TOU prices, you can do that at any time. The process described above applies.
  • Essex Powerlines Corporation is required to inform all new residential and small business customers that they have a choice between TOU or Tiered prices when they set up the account.
  • The choice between TOU and Tiered prices is available to nearly all residential and small business customers that have smart meters and are billed on TOU. Some residential and small business customers are charged Tiered prices because their meters can’t be used to bill TOU prices. They can’t switch to TOU prices at this time.
  • If you live in a condominium or apartment that has its own individual meter and your bill comes from a company other than Essex Powerlines Corporation, you are a customer of a unit sub-meter provider (USMP). Customers of USMPs also can’t switch to Tiered prices. That decision can only be made for the building as a whole by the “master consumer,” who is the person that retained a USMP for the property. In most cases, the master consumer is the property manager, landlord or condominium board.
  • Customers that are buying their electricity from an energy retailer pay the electricity price set out in their contract.  Once they have left their retail contract, they will have a choice between paying TOU or Tiered prices. For details about your energy contract, contact your energy retailer.

If you would like to learn more about your pricing options, visit www.oeb.ca/choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) sets TOU and Tiered prices based on a forecast of how much it will cost to supply TOU and Tiered customers with the electricity they are expected to use over the next 12 months. The OEB sets TOU and Tiered prices to recover the same forecast average cost of supply.

The OEB sets both TOU and Tiered prices under the Regulated Price Plan (RPP). The RPP is designed to provide stable pricing, encourage conservation and ensure that the price customers pay for electricity better reflects the price paid to generators that produce the electricity that customers use in their homes or small businesses.

Electricity utilities are not allowed to make a profit from the sale of electricity.

The OEB typically sets new TOU and Tiered prices for May and November, based on an estimate of how much it will cost to supply residential and small business customers on the Regulated Price Plan with the electricity that they are expected to use. 

There is no guarantee you will save money if you switch from TOU to Tiered prices. The total bill impact of switching will vary depending on how much electricity you consume in a month and when it is consumed during the day.

To see which rate makes sense for you, visit oeb.ca/choice and use their bill calculator to compare what your bill might look like if you switched from TOU to Tiered pricing.

If you are a TOU customer and don’t want to switch to Tiered prices, you don’t need to do anything. You will stay on TOU prices. 

If you do want to switch to Tiered prices, here are the rules that apply:

  • Fill out the election form available on our website. We accept election forms by email or mail. 
  • Within 10 business days of receiving the election form, Essex Powerlines will process the form and let you know when you can expect to start being billed on Tiered prices.
  • A switch from TOU to Tiered prices can only take effect at the start of a billing period. A billing period is generally about 30 days long, and the start and end dates are identified on your electricity bill. Many customers are not billed based on a calendar month, and the start of your billing period can be any given day of a month.
  • Essex Powerlines must receive your election form at least 10 business days before your billing period starts to start charging you Tiered prices. 

Yes. The rules that apply to switching to Tiered prices also apply if you later want to switch back to TOU prices.

Any customer on TOU may opt out and pay Tiered prices instead. Customers who are currently paying Tiered prices can’t switch to TOU prices at this time because their meters can’t be used to bill TOU prices.

If you live in a condo or apartment that has its own individual meter and your bill comes from a company other than your electricity utility, you are a customer of a unit sub-meter provider (USMP). Customers of USMPs also can’t switch to Tiered prices. That decision can only be made for the building as a whole by the master consumer, who is the person that retained a USMP for the property. In most cases, the master consumer is the property manager, landlord, or condominium board.

Yes. Essex Powerlines Corporation is required to inform all new Regulated Price Plan customers that they have a choice between TOU or Tiered prices when they set up the account.