The Ontario government is set to lessen the blow for hydro customers by moving the off-peak period for Time of Use metering from 9 p.m. to 7 p.m., CTV News has learned.

That means customers with smart meters will have more time in the evening to get lower prices for power in their homes.

Sources told CTV's Paul Bliss that the pricing change will take effect May. 1.

Premier Dalton McGuinty has said rising hydro costs are unavoidable as the government struggles to phase out its coal-fired power plants that spew pollution over the province.

His government has told citizens to expect residential electricity prices to rise by about 46 per cent over the next five years -- even as it introduced a 10 per cent rebate program.

The "Clean Energy Benefit" will give Ontarians a rebate of 10 per cent on their bills over that five-year period, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told the legislature last Thursday.

He put the cost of the program at $1.1 billion. The program will begin on Jan. 1.

With files from CTV Toronto's Paul Bliss