No one likes to pay more for electricity, but after months of flat-rate billing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hydro rates are rising as of Nov. 1.
But, for the first time, customers will now be able to opt for traditional time-of-use billing or move to tiered pricing, says NOTL Hydro CEO Tim Curtis.
With the tiered pricing program, people can choose a flat-rate price, which generally benefits residents who use less electricity, Curtis said.
Hydro costs can be complicated.
Since May, all residential customers across Ontario have been paying a flat 12.8 cents per kilowatt hour.
However, the Ontario Energy Board approved new time-of-use rates effective next month.
The time-of-use cost for weekday off-peak hours will be 10.5 cents per kWh, weekday mid-peak 15 cents and weekday on-peak 21.7 cents. Weekends and holidays are billed at the off-peak rate.
Under the tiered pricing scheme, residential customers would pay 12.6 cents per kWh for the first 1,000 kWh used and 14.6 cents thereafter.
But since everyone's power needs differ, customers should research which program best suits them, Curtis said.
If all that seems a bit confusing, the energy board has created an online calculator at www.oeb.ca/rates-and-your-bill/bill-calculator to help you figure out which option might best suit your needs.
As well, NOTL Hydro is developing its own calculator.
“We’re working on our automated platform” and it will be ready soon, hydro IT manager Brodie Mosher told The Lake Report.
“More information regarding it will be sent out closer to launch. It will review a customer's usage and compare the rates using their actual data.”
The Ontario electricity rebate increases Nov. 1 to a 33.2 per cent discount from the current rate of 31.8 per cent, Mosher said.
The choice of time-of-use versus tiered pricing “is brand new but electricity pricing used to be tiered before they opened the market in 2002,” Curtis noted.
But because everyone's consumption is influenced by many factors, each customer needs to determine what works best for their household, he advised.
“It depends on usage, but generally the less power you use the better tiered (pricing) will be,” he said.
The average Ontario residential customer consumes about 750 to 800 kWh monthly, Curtis said.
“The rates are likely to change again May 1 so customers should revisit their decision before the summer,” he added.
If a customers opts for tiered pricing in November and then finds it wasn't the best choice, they can switch back to time-of-use at anytime, Curtis said.
Any customers who decide to move to tiered pricing need to fill out an “election form,” available on NOTL Hydro's website at www.notlhydro.com/customer-service/rates/rpprates/.
Once completed, the form can be emailed, dropped off or mailed to the utility's offices in Virgil.