Changes to Ontario Hydro COVID-19 pricing could mean you'll pay more next month
TORONTO -- The Ontario government is changing its hydro rates at the end of the month, adding an additional $2.24 to an average electricity bill.
In June, the province announced that consumers would be charged a single around-the-clock electricity rate in an effort to help families working or caring for their children at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This meant that between June 1 and Oct. 31, Ontario residents were charged a blanket 12.8 cents per kilowatt hours (kWh) for their electricity instead of the 10 to 20 cents per kWh depending on the time of day.
But at the end of the month, those rates will be changing yet again.
On Tuesday, the province released new time-of-use pricing for November and said that the average residential customer using 700 kWh per month will see their bills increase by about $2.24.
The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) said this rate is what will show up after a 32.2 per cent Ontario Electricity Rebate provided by the government.
“The increase in prices reflects a combination of factors, including those associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, that have affected demand, supply costs and prices in the summer and fall of 2020,” the OEB said in a statement.
The new rates are as follows: 10.4 cents per kWh during off-peak hours, 15 cents during mid-peak hours and 21.7 cents during on-peak hours.
Off-peak hours are between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays during the winter. On-peak is between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. while mid-peak hours are between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
However, the government also says that consumers will be able to choose between this time-of-use rate and a “tiered” option.
Under this system, households will be charged 12.6 cents per kWh for the first 1,000 kWh of electricity they use. After that the price will increase to 14.6 cents. The rate will be stagnant regardless of the hour the electricity is used.
Anyone who wants to choose the “tiered” option must do so manually through their local provider. Otherwise they will automatically transfer to time-of-use pricing.
The provincial government committed $175 million at the height of the first wave of the pandemic to help keep hydro prices low, and the Ontario New Democratic Party argues they should continue to provide that support.
“People are pressed very hard to pay for food, to pay for rent, to pay mortgages, they are having a tough time. If there is ever a time for government to act on the interests of the people in this province, it’s now,” Peter Tabuns, NDP Education Critic said.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford addressed the hydro hike on Tuesday, saying “I hate it” but there are two choices depending “on your situation at home.”
Ford also added that more news on hydro rates is coming “within the year or even sooner.”