Ontarians will get a break on their hydro bills during COVID-19 pandemic
TORONTO -- Ontario ratepayers, forced to stay at home in self-isolation during the COVID-19 outbreak, will be getting a break on their hydro bills for the next 45 days, the Ford government announced.
Speaking to reporters at a news conference at Queen’s Park Tuesday afternoon, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that hydro rates will be temporarily lowered to the off-peak rates, which are typically reserved for evenings, overnights and weekends, meaning homeowners will be charged a steady rate of 10.1 cents per kilowatt per hour.
“We know this is a challenging time for all Ontarians who are doing the right thing by staying home. We realize this means people are using more electricity during the day,” Ford said.
"This means you will pay the lowest rate possible 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Ford said. "You won't have to do anything to receive the savings. The new rate will apply to the power you're using today, right at this moment, and for the next six weeks."
Ontarians are typically charged between 14.4 cents and 20.8 cents per kilowatt hour between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. as part of the provincial Time of Use energy conservation program.
Under Ford’s new plan, families will save an estimated $20 per month, while businesses will save $150. The cost of changing to off-peak rates will be about $162 million.
“We are just trying to take a little bit of the burden off the backs of people who have to stay home,” Ford said. “It’s just a small part the government can help the people of Ontario.”
Ford added that businesses and farmers will also be eligible for the lower rates.
Energy Minister Greg Rickford said there is “no playbook” for the situation, but the government decided on lowering rates for 45 days because a single month “wasn’t going to represent enough savings for the millions of families who shifted to their home base.”
“This is calibrated over what we consider a reasonable amount of time to think about where we are now and prospectively where families will be in the coming weeks,” he said.
The announcement comes a day after the provincial government ordered all non-essential businesses to close and encouraged people to work from home if possible to help stop the spread of COVID-19.