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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.

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

Earlier this year, Ontario deferred a portion of Global Adjustment (GA) between April and June 2020 by limiting the Class B GA rate to $115/MWh for non-Regulated Price Pan (RPP) customers and providing proportionate reductions for Class A customers. The deferred costs were intended to be recovered over a 12-month period beginning in January 2021. 

Ontario has now made amendments to O. Reg 429/04, effective January 1, 2021, to enable the recovery of those deferred GA costs. Starting in January 2021, Class A and non-RPP Class B customers will repay the deferral costs over 12 months. RPP consumers are not affected by these changes. These regulatory amendments can be found on the Ontario Website. 

At the same time, Ontario has made regulatory amendments such that starting January 1, 2021, a portion of non-hydro renewable energy contract costs will be paid by the government instead of electricity customers. This will lower electricity bills for commercial and industrial customers and more than offset the impact of recovering the deferred GA. This funding is also intended to continue well beyond 2021. 

What is the Government of Ontario doing and why?

Ontario deferred a portion of Global Adjustment (GA) between April and June 2020 by limiting the Class B GA rate to $115/MWh for non-Regulated Price Plan (RPP) customers and providing proportionate reductions for Class A customers. The deferred costs were intended to be recovered over a 12-month period beginning in January 2021.

The Ontario government has now made regulatory amendments to O. Reg 429/04 that enable the recovery of those deferred GA costs. The costs are being recovered starting January 1, 2021 from Class A and non-RPP Class B consumers. There is no effect on RPP consumers. These regulatory amendments can be found on the Ontario website.

Class A and non-RPP Class B customers will repay the deferral costs over 12 months, starting in January 2021. 

At the same time, Ontario is reducing the cost of electricity for industrial and commercial customers by shifting a portion of non-hydro renewable energy contract costs to the tax base. These reductions are considerably larger than the deferral repayment costs, and the intent is for this funding to continue after the deferral recovery is complete.

How will this affect electricity costs?

The recovery of the deferred Global Adjustment (GA) costs will put upward pressure on costs for Class A and non-RPP Class B customers in 2021. However, this will be more than offset by the government’s initiative to shift a portion of non-hydro renewable energy contract costs to the tax base. Those reductions are considerably larger than the deferral repayment costs, and the intent is for this funding to continue after the deferral recovery is complete. The result will be a significant net benefit to these customers. 

As a result of these two initiatives, in 2021, Class A and non-RPP Class B customers could see savings of about 11 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively. After 2021, savings are expected to increase as the recovery of deferred GA costs would be complete and the funding of a portion of non-hydro renewable energy contract costs is expected to continue. Actual savings will depend on location and consumption. 

Will households, small businesses or farms be affected? Will residential customers see their bills go up because of this?

No. Regulated Price Plan (RPP) customers, including residential, small business and farm customers, will not be affected by the recovery of deferred GA costs. 

 

Please note that the COVID-19 Relief Rate has ended as of February 22, 2021. Regular TOU and Tiered rates have resumed and customers will be automatically reverted to their RPP plan of choice.

To support Ontarians staying home during the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, the Government of Ontario has taken steps to hold the price of electricity at 8.5 cents/kWh for electricity used from January 1, 2021 until the end of the day on February 22, 2021. The fixed 8.5 cents/kWh price is equal to the off-peak price set by the OEB for January 1, 2021. The fixed price will apply to residential, small business and farm customers who buy their electricity from their utility and applies to customers on Time-of-Use (TOU) or Tiered pricing. 

This price change will happen automatically. No customer action is required. 

I just switched from TOU pricing to Tiered pricing. How does this affect me?

The fixed 8.5 cents/kWh price applies to all RPP customers, regardless of whether they are on TOU or Tiered pricing. 

What do I have to do to get this price?

Customers don’t need to do anything. This change will happen automatically for the electricity that they use from January 1, 2021 until the end of the day on February 22, 2021.

What happens after January 28, 2021?

When the fixed 8.5 cents/kWh price expires at the end of the day on February 22, 2021, customers will start to pay the RPP prices that were set by the OEB on December 15, 2020. Those prices will be either TOU or Tiered pricing, depending on which price plan the customer is on. 

Customers do still have the option to switch from TOU pricing to Tiered pricing, but the fixed 8.5 cents/kWh price will be in place until the end of the day on February 22, 2021 for customers on both price plans.

Why is this price relief only in place until January 28, 2021?

The government has chosen the 28-day period to align with other supports that the government has put in place for Ontarians staying at home during the province-wide shutdown announced on December 21, 2020.

When will this price change appear on my bill?

For many customers, their next bill after January 1, 2021 will show this new pricing. Some customers may receive a bill before their utility or USMP has been able to implement the pricing change. The timing of your monthly electricity bill might mean that you won’t see the change on your bill right away. In that case, you will get a credit on a future bill.

For many customers, the first bill after January 1, 2021 will have more than the usual number of line items on the “Electricity” portion of their bill. These line items are necessary to reflect the different prices that are in effect at different times: (i) the current RPP prices that are in effect until December 31, 2020; (ii) the fixed 8.5 cents/kWh price that will be in effect from January 1, 2021 until the end of the day on February 22, 2021; and (iii) the RPP prices that will be in effect starting on February 23, 2021, as set by the OEB on December 15, 2020.

 

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.

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. cents per kilowatt-hour, mid-peak rates of 15.0 cents per kilowatt-hour and on-peak rates of 21.7 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 (600kWh 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.

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.

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 Government of Ontario 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.

The COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) is provided by the Government of Ontario to support residential customers struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of the global pandemic. CEAP is a one time, on-bill credit for eligible residential electricity and natural gas customers to help them catch up on their energy bills and resume regular payments.

An electricity customer may be eligible for up to $750 in support towards their electricity and natural gas bills, and can apply for on-bill credits for both electricity and natural gas separately. 

Learn more

The COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB) provides a one time, on-bill credit to eligible small business and registered charity customers to help them catch up on their energy bills and resume regular payments. Small business and registered charity customers may be eligible for up to $1500 in support towards their electricity and natural gas bills, and can apply for on-bill credits for both electricity and natural gas separately.

Learn more

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