Ontario Introduces Customer Choice Rates
Ontario electricity consumers can now submit an application to choose the electricity rate option that best suits their needs: Time-of-Use or Tiered rates.
What works best for you? Time-of-Use or Tiered Rates?
In June 2020, the Ontario government announced that it would offer residential and small business customers under the Regulated Price Plan an opportunity to choose between Time-of-Use rates or Tiered rates, starting November 1, 2020.
There’s no deadline or requirement to complete the form. If you do not wish to make a choice, we will continue to calculate your bill under your default rate plan and keep the option to switch open, as long as this choice is supported by the Ontario government.
The Ontario Energy Board has released the following calculator to assist in deciding what works best for you.
Regardless of your choice, you will continue to receive your bill from ENWIN and enjoy the same safe and reliable supply of electricity and customer service you always have.
So, what’s the difference?
Under the Time-of-Use pricing, you pay a different rate for electricity, depending on the time of day and day of the week when you consume it. Time-of-Use has three periods: On-Peak (when energy demand and cost is high), Mid-Peak (when energy demand and cost is moderate) and Off-Peak (when energy demand and cost is low).
It should be noted that these peaks and valley were established prior to COVID-19, which has impacted consumption levels for many customers at various times of the day. As you make your choice, you will need to understand your current peak usage, and estimate your future consumption patterns.
Customers under the Tiered rate option, pay one set rate for the electricity they consume, up to a predetermined kilowatt-hour (kWh) threshold each month. Once customers exceed the monthly threshold, they are billed at a higher rate per kWh for all additional electricity consumed in that month.
An understanding of your current usage and potential future usage will benefit you in making this choice.
We're here to help
We want to help you make the best possible decision about which rate option best suits your needs and circumstances.
As customers reach out, we will be happy to provide any information we receive from the Ontario Energy Board. Here are the answers we have received so far, regarding top questions asked by customers across Ontario.
Considering a switch?
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.
- Your price plan
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.
- Your usage
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.
- Your consumption pattern
The time of day 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 use was typically split equally between On-Peak 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.
- Seasonal changes and time of year
As described above, Ontario’s Time-of-Use 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 1,000 kWh in the winter or 600 kWh in the summer. For instance, if you heat your home electrically, 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 Time-of-Use prices, the price depends on when you use electricity. Although the Time-of-Use 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 all year round.
- Lifestyle and daily habits
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?
- Small Business
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. This may also apply to a dry cleaner, as compared to a convenience store, or a clothing store, as compared to a bakery.
Rules for Time-of-Use Customer Choice
If you’re a Time-of-Use customer and don’t want to switch to Tiered prices, you don’t need to do anything. You will stay on Time-of-Use 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 Time-of-Use prices.
- Starting October 13, 2020, ENWIN must make its election form available on its website, and to any customer that requests it. ENWIN will accept election forms online, through email or mail.
- You’ll need to fill out the election form to notify ENWIN 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, ENWIN 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, ENWIN 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.
- ENWIN 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 ENWIN 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 ENWIN 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.
- ENWIN 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 ENWIN, 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.
For more information about Time-of-Use and Tiered pricing, visit the OEB's website at oeb.ca/choice.