Province set to announce ‘pick-and-pay’ hydro options
Joshua Freeman, CTV News Toronto
Published Monday, August 28, 2017 6:04PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 29, 2017 1:12PM EDT
The province is set to unveil a pilot project that will allow hydro customers to tailor on and off-peak billing times to their lifestyles, CTV News Toronto has learned.
Likened to pick-and-pay cable packages, the government is looking to help consumers feel like they are saving money by paying in a way that makes sense for them.
Sources told CTV News Toronto that the new hydro packages in the pilot will be tailored to different lifestyles, with peak and off-peak pricing options that accommodate different schedules for cooking, doing laundry and entertaining.
For example, one option dubbed “The Overnight” would allow a customer to implement a “super off peak rate” that would be much lower between midnight and 6 a.m. That package would benefit shift workers and those who charge electric cars overnight when usage is at its lowest.
An “enhanced” option would allow customers to implement on and off peak prices with a much sharper price discrepancy, so that on-peak would cost about four times as much as off-peak. That option could benefit people who restrict most of their usage to off-peak times.
The “Dynamic P” option would introduce variable peak prices between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., with all other usage times billed at an off-peak price that is 25 per cent lower than the current off-peak price.
Yet another plan being tested involves “seasonal time of use” where consumers would get a single flat rate in spring and fall, and off and on-peak prices in winter and summer.
The time of use pricing in the plans will be set by the Ontario Energy Board.
The plans are also expected to make use of smart meters, smartphones and smart thermostats so that local distribution companies can warn customers before prices are set to rise, allowing customers to remotely adjust their usage.
The $17.5 million pilot project is set to be announced Tuesday and will begin within the next few months for 18,000 customers in Oshawa, York Region, Barrie and London.
The province will be looking to the pilot to gauge customer acceptance, understanding and willingness to pay for certain price points. If the pilot is successful, the new billing options will eventually be rolled out across the province.
The funding for the pilot project is coming from the conservation fund of the Independent Electricity System Operator. Sources told CTV News Toronto that all the plans are revenue neutral, meaning they won’t bring in extra money to government coffers.
- With a report from CTV News Toronto’s Paul Bliss