CONTINUED SERVICE PLANNING FOR CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
With the increasing news and concern regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we recognize the importance of continuing to serve you reliably, safely and efficiently. We assure you that we have been closely monitoring news from reputable sources, such as the Government of Canada, World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We are working together with Local Distribution Companies across Ontario to collaborate on coordinated efforts and mutual aid where needed.
Essex Powerlines is taking extra precautions to keep customers, employees and communities at large safe. We remain committed to transparency during this time and have defined our contingency plan for various types of situations that may arise. Essex Powerlines is taking the following measures to limit the spread of an outbreak:
• Customers are asked to please refrain from visiting Essex Powerlines Office until further notice. If you need assistance, please call our Customer Service Representatives at 519-737-6640.
• On-site and in-person scheduled meetings with third parties have been suspended until further notice. Meetings will be conducted by webinar, conference call or other virtual communication tools we have in place.
• Cleaning protocols, such as routine surface cleaning, has been enhanced at each of our offices.
• We have increased communications with our employees on health and safety measures.
If you would like more information or have any questions, please contact our Customer Service Department at 519-737-6640 and they will direct you accordingly.
ONLINE CUSTOMER SUPPORT
We encourage our customers to use our online customer service tool, MyAccount. MyAccount allows you to view previous and current bills, to receive an email as soon as your bill is ready, and to monitor your usage in real-time. You are also able to retrieve data such as your transaction history, smart meter data, time-of-use status, and more.
For information on how to sign up, please see the following:
To limit the risk of exposure and to ensure our employees, customers, and the community at large are safe by practicing social distancing, we are suggesting the following options for bill payments:
- Online banking through your bank/financial institution. You can see online banking information on our customer portal, MyAccount
- Telephone banking through your bank/financial institution
- Cheque via mail (Our office address is 2730 Highway #3, Oldcastle, ON N0R 1L0)
- Credit Card payment service through Paymentus. For more information click here
- Pre-Authorized Payment Plans- You can have your bank account automatically debited and you’ll never have to worry about missing a payment again. Complete our Automatic Payment Plan Authorization Form and mail to our office with a voided cheque.
TIME OF USE PERIODS & PRICING
The original support of off-peak rates at 10.1 cents per kilowatt-hour were in effect as of March 24, 2020 and ended May 31, 2020. Starting on June 1st, the Government of Ontario introduced a fixed electricity price, known as the COVID-19 Recovery Rate, of 12.8 cents per kilowatt-hour. This new rate applies to all customers who are billed on TOU pricing (including residential customers, farmers, and small businesses) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The fixed electricity price will be in place from June 1- October 31, 2020.
Typical Time-of-Use pricing includes off-peak rates of 10.1 cents per kilowatt-hour, mid-peak rates of 14.4 cents per kilowatt-hour and on-peak rates of 20.8 cents per kilowatt-hour.
When will the rates be in effect?
The COVID-19 Recovery Rate is in effect as of June 1st, 2020 at 12:00a.m. EST and is intended to be in effect until October 31, 2020.
Will the COVID-19 Recovery Rate be automatically applied to customer bills?
Yes, the fixed ‘COVID-19 Recovery Rate’ of 12.8¢/kWh will automatically be applied to all customers who pay time-of-use (TOU) rates starting June 1, 2020. It is intended that this rate will continue to be in effect until October 31, 2020.
Will the COVID-19 Recovery Rate have an impact on customer bills?
Historical consumption patterns suggest that the monthly summer bills of most residential and small business customers charged at the COVID-19 Recovery Rate would on average be expected to be within +/- 2 percent of the bill they would have received if they were charged the TOU prices by the Ontario Energy Board on November 1, 2019.
The bill impact for individual customers as a result of the adoption of the COVID-19 Recovery Rate will depend on how much electricity they use and the extent to which their consumption pattern is different from what it has been in the past.
How will this change affect RPP customers who don’t pay TOU rates?
Tiered customers will not be affected by the new fixed price. The initial rate reduction was targeted to TOU ratepayers, as those were the customers that would see the greatest increase in cost due to being home during the day. There are approximately 5 million residential consumers, farms and some small businesses who are on TOU electricity prices under the RPP.
The remainder of RPP customers either pay tiered prices or have opted out of the RPP to sign a contract with an electricity retailer or to pay market-based pricing. At the present time, RPP customers who pay tiered rates make up less than 5% of RPP consumers.
What is happening with the usage threshold for tiered rates? The summer threshold that normally goes into effect May 1 is much lower than the winter (600 kWh vs. 1000 kwh per month.) With most people at home for all of May, the higher threshold will kick in much earlier for a lot of customers.
The Ontario Energy Board has extended the winter tier prices and the winter thresholds also remain in place until further notice. By keeping the winter threshold in place, residential customers will have an additional 400kWh/month available at the lower Tier 1 price.
EXTENSION OF MORATORIUM FOR ELECTRICITY CUSTOMERS
Essex Powerlines is joining other Local Distribution Companies across Ontario in providing relief to electricity customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as such, has committed to voluntarily suspend electricity disconnection moratorium for its customers, effective as of March 17, 2020. The change to the disconnection moratorium is meant to help customers who are working from home and who are in need of financial assistance. Essex Powerlines recognizes the importance of continuing to serve its customers reliably, safely and efficiently, and as such, a temporary relief for customers who are in need will ensure just that.
As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolves, the government will continue to implore other rate relief measures and is committed to making changes that assist Ontarians during these unprecedented times. Essex Powerlines has committed to work jointly with the Ministry and Ontario Local Distribution Companies to bring the best possible solution to Ontarians and to its customers as we transition through this difficult time together.
GLOBAL ADJUSTMENT (GA) DEFERRAL FOR COMPANIES
The Ontario Government has implemented an Emergency Order to defer a portion of Global Adjustment charges for industrial and commercial electricity consumers that do not participate in the Regulated Price Plan (RPP), starting from April 2020.
The Global Adjustment Rate for smaller industrial and commercial consumers (i.e. Class B) has been set at $115 per megawatt-hour, which is roughly in line with the March 2020 value. Large industrial and commercial consumers (i.e. Class A) will receive the same percentage reduction in Global Adjustment charges as Class B consumers.
The government intends to keep this relief in place through the end of June 2020, subject to necessary extensions and approvals to implement this initiative.
Industrial and electricity consumers will automatically see this relief reflected on their bills. Consumers who have already received their April bill should see an adjustment on a future bill. Please contact us at 519-737-6640 with questions about your bill.
What is the Ontario Government doing and why?
Ontario is deferring a portion of the Global Adjustment charges for industrial and commercial electricity consumers that do not participate in the Regulated Price Plan (RPP), starting from April 2020. The government intends to keep this relief in place to the end of June 2020, subject to necessary extensions and approvals to implement this initiative.
The GA rate for smaller industrial and commercial consumers (i.e., Class B) will be set at $115 per megawatt-hour, which is roughly in line with the March 2020 value. Large industrial and commercial consumers (i.e., Class A) will receive the same percentage reduction in GA charges as Class B consumers.
This will provide immediate financial support for companies when they need it most: as they do their part to contain COVID-19 and as they prepare to help get our economy moving again.
Who will benefit?
Ontario anticipates that more than 50,000 industrial (typically Class A) and commercial (typically Class B) electricity consumers will benefit from this relief.
Subject to necessary extensions and approvals to implement this initiative, these consumers would be protected from a marked increase in GA cost caused by the low demand during the COVID-19 outbreak for the months of April, May and June 2020.
Will consumers be expected to pay back the temporary relief at a later date?
Yes, in 2021, Class A and Class B consumers would see an increase in their Global Adjustment (GA) costs over a 12-month period.
The government intends to propose regulatory amendments (together with other amendments as necessary) to O. Reg. 429/04 made under the Electricity Act, 1998 in May 2020. If approved, these proposed amendments would allow the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to recover the deferred GA charges over a 12-month period beginning in January 2021. Interest costs related to the deferral would not be recovered from consumers.
Why is the relief only being provided temporarily?
These are temporary relief measures intended to provide immediate financial support for companies when they need it most: as they do their part to contain COVID-19 and as they prepare to help get our economy moving again.
My company has already been billed for April based on an estimated Global Adjustment rate. Will I get a rebate?
You will receive an adjustment on a future bill.