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Electricity rate decreases offset by cuts to provincial subsidies

Recent provincial changes will see some shuffling of line items on your hydro bill, but the amount owing will decrease only slightly – while rates are declining, so too are subsidies.

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) announced that regulated price plan (RPP) rates – which include time of use (TOU) pricing and tiered pricing – would be going down in mid-December to reflect changes in the cost of supplying electricity. However, the Ontario Energy Rebate – a pre-tax credit that appears on the bottom of bills – would also be reduced from 33.2 per cent to 21.2 per cent. This change would effectively nullify savings for the average user of 700 kilowatt-hours.

Despite the lack of savings coming from RPP rates, some electricity customers in Waterloo Region are set to see minimal savings on their bills starting this month after Waterloo North Hydro (WNH) got approval from the OEB to reduce their distribution rates.

That change will provide residential customers with an average savings of $0.16 per month. Small- and medium-sized businesses will also benefit from the changes as businesses using 2,000 kilowatt-hours will see a decrease of 23 cents per month and those using 100,000 kilowatt-hours will see a decrease of $13.02.

Jeff Quint, manager of energy efficiency and corporate communications at WNH, said the company has worked to keep rates affordable while maintaining a high level of service and they are happy to be able to help during this difficult time.

“We have been impacted by COVID-19 like any other business and have worked very hard to trim expenses while ensuring that we continue to provide safe and reliable service to all of our customers at a reasonable cost. … We believe any savings are helpful for customers and wish we could decrease rates further, but we are not willing to sacrifice service levels in doing so,” said Quint.

The government also reduced the TOU pricing and tiered pricing, in an effort to help those during the provincial lockdown. Until January 28, all pricing, whether TOU or tiered sits at 8.5 cents per kilowatt hour.

After that date – if these emergency prices are not extended – rates will return to the previously announced levels for TOU and tiered use.

Once prices go back to normal, customers under TOU will pay 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for off-peak hours (7 p.m. to 7 a.m. during weekdays and all day on weekends and holidays), 11.9 cents per kilowatt-hour for mid-peak hours (11 a.m. to 5 p.m. during weekdays) and 17.6 cents per kilowatt-hour for on-peak hours (7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. during weekdays).

Compared to previous TOU prices, costs have gone down 2 cents, 3.1 cents and 4.1 cents for off-, mid- and on-peak hours respectively.

Under the tiered pricing, residential customers will pay 10.1 cents per kilowatt-hour on the first 1,000 kilowatt-hours used each month, non-residential customers will pay the same on the first 750 kilowatt-hours. Both residential and non-residential customers will then pay 11.8 cents per kilowatt-hour for usage above the aforementioned 1,000 and 750 kilowatt-hours.

Previous tiered residential prices sat at 12.6 cents per kilowatt-hour for up to 1,000 kilowatt-hours and 14.6 cents per kilowatt-hour for anything over 1,000 kilowatt-hours.

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