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New consumer protection rules – January 1, 2017

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

The information on this page applies to contracts that are entered into on and after January 1, 2017. For the rules that apply to contracts entered into or renewed before January 2017, visit this page.

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

 

1. Know your rights.

  • An energy retailer’s salesperson must give you a business card and show their company ID badge.
  • Your utility bill is private. It contains personal information like your account number and energy usage. An energy retailer only needs this information if you decide to enter into a contract.
  • View a list of energy retailers who have notified us that they may be offering contracts to residential and small business consumers. 

2. Energy retailers can’t sign you up for a contract while they are at your home.

  • Energy retailers can still come to your home and give you information, but they cannot leave a copy of a contract with you.  
  • There are limits on the times of the day, and the number of times, an energy retailer can come to your home. They are NOT allowed to come to your home:
    • On a day that is a legal holiday in Ontario
    • On the weekday that counts as a legal holiday if a holiday falls on the weekend
    • On weekends, before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
    • On weekdays, before 10 a.m. or after 8 p.m.
    • More than 4 times in a 12-month period unless you invite them to do so
    • If you have posted a sign at your home discouraging door-to-door marketing/sales
    • In addition, if an energy retailer has come to your home uninvited, they cannot contact you again in any way more than once in the next 30 days unless:
      • You’ve asked them to, or
      • You have signed a contract and you are contacted for the purpose of confirming that you want to continue with it

3. You have a choice. You may decide to enter into an energy contract with a licensed energy retailer or you can purchase your electricity or natural gas from your utility.

  • Your home or small business will continue to have natural gas or electricity whether or not you enter into a contract.
  • With, or without, an energy contract, you will be eligible for conservation and other programs from government or your utility.

4. Energy retailers are not your utility, the government or the Ontario Energy Board.

5. Savings are not guaranteed. An energy contract may not save you money. 

  • Make sure you understand what you will pay under the contract.
  • The Ontario Energy Board does not set prices included in an energy retailer’s contract.

6. Remember, you are entering into a legal agreement. An energy contract is a legal agreement between you and an energy retailer. When you sign, you have rights and you also have responsibilities.

7. There will be other charges. An energy contract only applies to part of your bill:

  • If you switch to an energy retailer, 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 buy your electricity from your utility, an estimate of the GA is already included in the rates for the electricity that you use. If you enter into a contract for electricity, you will have to pay the GA on top of the contract price. You will also start to see the GA itemized as a separate line on your bill. 

8. Compare prices. Take the time to review and compare the energy contract offer and the rates charged by your utility:

  • If you buy electricity from your utility, the rate is set by the Ontario Energy Board and can change every 6 months. This is known as the Regulated Price Plan.
  • If you buy natural gas from Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc., Union Gas Ltd. or Natural Resource Gas Limited, the rates are regulated by the Ontario Energy Board and can change every 3 months. If you buy natural gas from Kitchener Utilities or Utilities Kingston, the rates are set by your municipal council and can change from time to time.
  • You can find historic electricity and natural gas rates set by the Ontario Energy Board, in the electricity rates and natural gas rates sections of our website.
  • Use your own utility bill, the contract price offer and our bill calculator for electricity and natural gas to compare the contract offer with Ontario Energy Board-approved rates charged by electricity and natural gas utilities. The bill calculator cannot be used to compare natural gas rates for Kitchener Utilities and Utilities Kingston as their rates are not regulated by the Ontario Energy Board.

9. Understand payment options. If you are on an equal payment plan, make sure you ask your electricity utility if you can stay on their plan if you enter into an energy contract. 

10. Do your homework. If you decide to move forward with an energy contract, the energy retailer must give you the following documents. Take the time to read all the information.

  • The energy contract
  • A disclosure statement with important information about energy contracts from the Ontario Energy Board
  • A price comparison sheet, in the form approved by the Ontario Energy Board - one for electricity and one for natural gas depending on what you want to buy from the energy retailer.

If these documents were not provided to you, call us.

11. The final choice is yours. Take your time. Don’t feel pressured into making a decision. It’s up to you how you buy your electricity or natural gas.

12. Keep a paper trail. Keep copies of all materials that an energy retailer gives you, including any Disclosure Statements, Price Comparisons and energy contracts, as well as copies of all correspondence with the energy retailer.

Download: Door hanger: Knock knock! (pdf)