Nearing the end of an energy contract: How renewals and extensions work

New consumer protection rules – January 1, 2017

On January 1, 2017, new rules came into effect regarding energy (electricity and/or natural gas) contracts and how energy retailers deal with residential and small business consumers. The rules include banning contracting with consumers at home.

The information on this page applies to contracts that are renewed on or after January 1, 2011. Contact the OEB if you have any questions about the rules that applied to older contracts.

This document can be made available in other languages upon request.

 

In order for an energy contract to be renewed or extended, the original contract must allow renewal or extension. If it does, the energy contract can be renewed or extended following the rules described below.

Before you renew or extend a contract: what you need to know

1. You do not have to renew or extend your energy contract.

  • You have a choice. You may decide to renew or extend your energy contract with a licensed energy retailer or you can go back to buying your energy from your electricity and/or natural gas utility.
  • Your home or small business will have natural gas or electricity whether or not you renew or extend your energy contract.
  • With, or without, an energy contract, you will still be eligible for conservation and other programs from government or your utility.

2. Energy retailers are not your utility, the government or the OEB.

3. Automatic renewal or extension is not allowed as of January 1, 2017.

  • As of January 1, 2017, an energy contract cannot be renewed or extended without your agreement.
  • If you want to renew or extend your energy contract, you have to send signed copies of the renewal or extension form, the Disclosure Statement and the Price Comparison(s) back to the energy retailer. Or the energy retailer can ask you to renew or extend by telephone.

4. Savings are not guaranteed. Renewing or extending your energy contract may not save you money.

  • Make sure you understand what you will pay under the renewed or extended energy contract.
  • The OEB does not set prices included in the energy retailer’s contract.

5. There will be other charges. A renewed or extended energy contract only applies to part of your bill:

  • Even if you renew or extend your energy contract, you still have to pay other charges to your utility to have your natural gas and/or electricity delivered to your home or small business.
  • All electricity consumers pay a portion of the Global Adjustment (GA). The GA accounts for the differences between the market price of electricity and the rates paid to regulated and contracted generators, and for conservation programs.
  • If you renew or extend your energy contract, you will continue to see the GA itemized as a separate line on your electricity bill.

6. Compare prices. Take the time to review and compare the price offer for the renewed or extended energy contract and the prices charged by your utility:

  • The price charged by your electricity utility is set by the OEB and can change every six months. This is known as the Regulated Price Plan.
  • The prices charged by Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc., Union Gas Ltd. or Natural Resource Gas Limited are regulated by the OEB and can change every three months. The natural gas prices charged by Kitchener Utilities or Utilities Kingston are set by the municipal council and can change from time to time.
  • You can access historic electricity and natural gas rates charged by utilities, if set or regulated by the OEB, in the electricity rates and natural gas rates sections of our website.
  • Use your own utility bill, the price offer for the renewed or extended contract and the OEB’s bill calculator for electricity and natural gas to compare the contract offer with OEB-approved prices charged by electricity and natural gas utilities.

7. Do your homework. If you decide to renew or extend your energy contract, the energy retailer must give you the following documents – this is described in more detail in the “General Rules” section below. Take the time to read all the information.

  • The renewed or extended energy contract.
  • The renewal or extension form that describes any changes to your current energy contract.
  • A Disclosure Statement with important information about energy contracts from the OEB.
  • Price Comparisons, one for electricity and one for natural gas; depending on what your current energy contract covers.

If these documents were not provided to you, call the OEB.

8. Remember, you are entering into a legal agreement. The renewed or extended energy contract is a legal agreement between you and an energy retailer. When you renew or extend an energy contract, you have rights and you also have responsibilities.

9. You can change your mind. You can cancel the renewed or extended energy contract with no penalty:

  • Within 14 days after you renewed or extended the contract by telephone or by sending the renewal or extension form and other documents back to the energy retailer.
  • If you renew or extend the contract on or after January 1, 2017, it can also be cancelled within 30 days after you receive your second bill under the renewed or extended contract. You will still have to pay your bills.

You can cancel at any other time but may have to pay a cancellation fee. Read the renewed or extended contract and know the cancellation rules and cost.

General rules for the renewal or extension of energy contracts

This is the process for renewing or extending a contract for up to five years:

1. A renewal or extension package must be sent to you between  60 and 120 days before the date that your energy contract ends (sometimes referred to as the “renewal or extension date”).

2. This package must include:

  • a copy of the renewed or extended energy contract. If the renewal or extension is for a contract that you first entered into before January 1, 2011, the renewed or extended contract must include certain rights to cancel the renewed or extended contract without cost or penalty (these rights already apply by law for contracts entered into for the first time on or after January 1, 2011);
  • a Disclosure Statement with important information about energy contracts from the OEB;
  • a Price Comparison Sheet in the form approved by the OEB, one for electricity and one for natural gas, depending on what your current energy contract covers; and
  • two copies of a renewal or extension form.

3. The renewal or extension form must include:

  • a clear description of any changes to the energy contract for each renewal or extension option you've been offered. The only changes that are allowed are changes to the energy contract's termination date, the price under the contract and any changes required by law or the OEB’s regulatory requirements;
  • a description of the actions you should take if you want to renew or extend the contract (refer to item 4 below); and
  • a place for you to sign if you do not wish to renew or extend the energy contract.

4. If you want to renew or extend the energy contract, you must:

  • clearly mark the option you have chosen on the renewal or extension form;
  • sign one copy of the renewal or extension form;
  • sign one copy of the Disclosure Statement and Price Comparison(s); and
  • return the signed renewal or extension form, Disclosure Statement and Price Comparison(s) to the energy retailer.

You may also take these actions through the energy retailer’s website or by email.  You may also renew or extend your energy contract by telephone, and the energy retailer may also telephone you to confirm whether you wish to renew or extend your energy contract. That call must include all the statements required by an OEB-approved script, and it must be recorded by the energy retailer. If you ask for a copy of the recording, it must be sent to you within 10 days.

5. Even after you have agreed to the renewal or extension, you have up to 14 days to change your mind and cancel the renewed or extended energy contract without cost or penalty. You may do this in writing or by telephone. If you cancel by telephone, the energy retailer must record the call, and send you a written confirmation. If you ask for a copy of the recording, it must be sent to you within 10 days.

6. If you renew or extend the energy contract on or after January 1, 2017, it can also be cancelled within 30 days after you receive your second bill under the renewed or extended contract. You will still have to pay your bills.

You can cancel at any other time but may have to pay a cancellation fee. Read the renewed or extended contract and know the cancellation rules and cost.