COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business and Registered Charity Customers


The Government of Ontario is providing $8 million to support small business and registered charity customers struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of COVID-19. The COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB) is being delivered directly by electricity and natural gas distributors and unit sub-meter providers (USMPs), further to rules laid out by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).

CEAP-SB provides a one time, on-bill credit for eligible small business and registered charity customers to help them catch up on their energy bills and resume regular payments.  

CEAP-SB funding is limited. Distributors and USMPs are expected to process applications in the order in which they are received. Submitting an application for CEAP-SB to your distributor (ENWIN) or USMP does not guarantee funding.

 

Eligibility Requirements

Small businesses and registered charities may be eligible for CEAP-SB if they meet all of the following criteria:

  1. The customer has an active account with an electricity distributor, a USMP or a natural gas distributor.
  2. The customer’s account falls within the following class:
    • For customers of an electricity distributor, the General Service less than 50 kW rate class.
    • For customers of a USMP, the relevant commercial class that uses less than 150,000 kWh of electricity annually.
    • For customers of a natural gas distributor, a non-residential rate class that uses less than 50,000 cubic meters of gas annually.
      Customers can find information about their class on their bill, or they can contact their distributor or USMP.
  3. The customer has a registered business number or charitable registration number for the small business or registered charity operating out of the premises.
  4. The customer’s account was in good standing on March 17, 2020, and the customer was not enrolled in an arrears payment agreement for amounts owing prior to March 17, 2020.  However, customers that enrolled in an arrears payment agreement for amounts that became owing after March 17, 2020 can be eligible for CEAP-SB.
  5. The customer failed to make complete payment for the electricity and/or natural gas charges (as applicable) on at least two bills issued since March 17, 2020, and has an overdue balance on the date of their application for CEAP-SB.
  6. The customer’s small business or registered charity premises was required to close* to the public for regular operations for at least 15 days as a result of a government order or inability to comply with public health recommendations.

* “to close” means that the small business or registered charity was unable to maintain regular operations as a result of government order or health recommendations that required them to either fully close operations, limit access to their premises or limit the services provided or available to the public.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, click here for the CEAP-SB Application Form page.

 

CEAP-SB Benefit Amounts

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. 

Eligible small business and registered charity customers may qualify for up to $850 in support towards their electricity bill if they primarily use electricity for heating, or up to $425 otherwise.

They may also qualify for up to $425 in support towards their natural gas bill.

A small business or registered charity can receive only one CEAP-SB credit towards their electricity bill and one CEAP-SB credit towards their natural gas bill, even if they have multiple locations throughout the Province.


Questions and Answers (provided by the Ontario Energy Board)


1. What is the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program- Small Business or CEAP-SB?

The Government of Ontario is providing $8 million for its new COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program – Small Business (CEAP-SB), to support small business and registered charity customers struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of COVID-19. 

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.  The program is being delivered directly by electricity and natural gas distributors and unit sub-meter providers (USMPs), further to rules laid out by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).

Distributors and USMPs will begin accepting applications for CEAP on August 31, 2020.

 

2. Which customers are eligible for CEAP-SB?

Small business and registered charity electricity or natural gas customers are eligible for CEAP-SB if they meet all of the following criteria: 

  • The customer has an active account with an electricity distributor, a USMP or a natural gas distributor.
  • The customer’s account falls within the following class:
    • For customers of an electricity distributor, the General Service less than 50 kW rate class
    • For customers of a USMP, the relevant commercial class that uses less than 150,000 kWh of electricity annually
    • For customers of a natural gas distributor, a non-residential rate class that uses less than 50,000 cubic meters of gas annually
      Customers can find information about their class on their bill, or they can contact their energy distributor or USMP.
  • The customer has a registered business number or charitable registration number for the small business or registered charity operating out of the premises.
  • The customer’s account was in good standing on March 17, 2020, and the customer was not enrolled in an arrears payment agreement for amount owing prior to March 17, 2020.  However, customers that enrolled in an arrears payment agreement for amounts that became owing after March 17, 2020 can be eligible for CEAP-SB.
  • The customer failed to make complete payment for the electricity and/or natural gas charges (as applicable) on at least two bills issued since March 17, 2020, and has an overdue balance on the date of their application for CEAP-SB.
  • The customer’s small business or registered charity premises was required to close to the public for regular operations for at least 15 days as a result of a government order or inability to comply with public health recommendations.

 

3. What do you mean by “closed” for 15 days? 

The OEB considers “closed” to mean that the small business or registered charity was unable to maintain regular operations as a result of government order or health recommendations that required them to either fully close operations, limit access to their premises or limit the services provided or available to the public.  

The following are examples of what closures might include (this list is not exhaustive, and there may be other examples):

  • Personal services (e.g. hair salon, chiropractor) that had to fully close.
  • A restaurant or coffee shop that had to close regular dining operations and provided only takeaway or delivery service.
  • A small fashion retailer or pet store whose premises was closed to the public but was able to provide contactless curbside pick-up for customers.
  • A non-publicly funded registered charity whose premises was closed to the public but was able to adapt to provide limited services remotely.

 

4. Can eligible small business and registered charity customers apply for CEAP-SB to help with both their electricity and gas bills?

Yes, but customers can only receive a CEAP-SB credit once for electricity and once for gas.

 

5. How can customers apply for CEAP-SB?

Customers must apply for CEAP-SB through their electricity or natural gas distributors or USMPs.  

Starting August 31, 2020, electricity and natural gas distributors and USMPs will be making the CEAP-SB application form available on their websites and directly to any small business or registered charity customer that requests it.  Customers should contact their electricity or natural gas distributor or USMP directly as each may have a unique approach for application in-take. 

At a minimum, customers can apply for CEAP-SB by email or by mail.  Some electricity and natural gas distributors and USMPs may also have the capability to allow their customers to apply online or by phone.  Customers should contact their electricity and natural gas distributor or USMP to find out what options are available.

CEAP-SB funding is limited. Submitting an application for CEAP-SB to a electricity distributor, natural gas distributor or USMP does not guarantee funding.

Electricity and Natural gas distributors and USMPs are expected to process applications in the order in which they are received, and to process complete applications within 10 business days of receipt.

 

6. Is there a deadline to apply for CEAP-SB?

No, but funding for the program is limited, and distributors and USMPs are expected to process applications in the order in which they are received. CEAP-SB funding is not guaranteed even after a complete application has been submitted.

The government is making $8 million available for CEAP-SB to support small business and registered charity energy customers.  Each electricity and natural gas distributor and USMP has been allocated a share of that amount, based on their reporting on customer numbers.  Each electricity and natural gas distributor or USMP will stop accepting applications and providing CEAP-SB credits once their allocated share of CEAP-SB funding has run out.

 

7. What is the maximum CEAP-SB credit that a customer can receive?

Electricity customers

Eligible small business and registered charity customers may qualify for a one-time CEAP-SB credit equal to the electricity charges that are overdue on the date of their application for CEAP-SB:

  • up to a maximum of $850 if their premises is mainly heated by electricity, or 
  • up to a maximum of $425 otherwise.

 

8. What if a small business or registered charity has multiple locations?

An eligible CEAP-SB small business or registered charity customer that has more than one location can receive only one CEAP-SB credit towards their electricity bill and one CEAP-SB credit towards their natural gas bill, even if they have multiple locations throughout the Province the location can be different for electricity and natural gas. The pre-set maximum amount of support for eligible customers will assist in achieving the objective of making CEAP-SB available to help the most small businesses and registered charities affected financially by COVID-19. 

 

9. Why is there a cap on the maximum amount of the CEAP-SB credit available per eligible customer?

The pre-set maximum amount of support for eligible customers will assist in achieving the objective of making CEAP-SB available to help the most small businesses and registered charities affected financially by COVID-19. For the same reason, CEAP-SB funding will be available only once per customer for each of electricity and natural gas, and only once per location for customers that have multiple locations.

 

10. When will a customer see the credit on their bill?

Distributors and USMPs are expected to process complete CEAP-SB applications within 10 business days of receipt.

Provided that a customer is eligible and their distributor or USMP has CEAP-SB funds remaining when they assess the application as complete, the credit will be applied to the next available bill issued after that.

 

11. How did the OEB allocate CEAP-SB funding?

The government is making $8 million available for CEAP-SB to support small business and registered charity energy customers.  Each electricity and natural gas distributor and USMP has been allocated a share of that amount, based on their reporting on customer numbers. The funding allocated to each class of energy service provider is as follows:

Electricity distributors: $4.625 million

USMPs: $53,700  

Natural Gas distributors: $3.32 million

Each distributor and USMP has been advised by the OEB of their share of CEAP-SB funding.


How to apply

Applications will be accepted starting August 31, 2020.

Distributors and USMPs are expected to process applications in the order in which they are received, and to process complete applications within 10 business days of receipt.

CEAP-SB funding is limited.  Submitting an application for CEAP-SB does not guarantee funding.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, click here for the CEAP-SB Application Form page.