ECPA Implementation - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Case number
EB-2010-0245
Launched
Sector
Electricity
Natural Gas
Status
Complete
Details

Below you will find general responses to enquiries that relate to the implementation of the Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010 and associated Ontario Energy Board regulatory requirements. The FAQ have been prepared by Board staff for general information purposes only and may not cover all individual circumstances.

The initial set of FAQ as posted on January 17, 2011 relate to issues discussed during a December 14, 2010 meeting with licensed electricity retailers and licensed gas marketers, and in some instances provide responses that were not available during the meeting.

Related policy initiatives:

 

1. In cases where there is no carbon capture, is it acceptable to have only one copy of the disclosure statement and price comparison signed by the consumer and kept with the supplier, and an unsigned version left with the consumer?

Yes. Suppliers are reminded that the Board encourages them to avail themselves of the carbon capture functionality, and that in the event of a dispute, the Board will look to the supplier to demonstrate to the Boards satisfaction that all legal and regulatory requirements relating to the contracting process have been met, including as to the receipt and signature of disclosure statements and price comparisons.

2. Will the OEB post a schedule identifying when price comparison templates will be available?

A schedule for the release of price comparison templates cannot be accommodated. Electricity price comparison templates will be posted approximately 15 days before the effective date of a change in RPP prices (the effective dates being November 1 and May 1). Board staff ensures the gas price comparison templates are issued within 24 hours of the issuance of the Board-approved QRAM.

3. When must suppliers start using price comparisons based on templates that reflect the QRAM adjustments that become effective January 1, 2011?

All price comparisons provided to low-volume consumers on and after January 1, 2011 must be prepared using the price comparison templates that reflect the January 1, 2011 QRAM adjustments.

4. Going forward, are suppliers expected to use the price comparisons commencing on the date they are posted, or on the effective date of a rate or price change?

Each price comparison template identifies, at the top of the page, the date on which the price comparison commences and ceases to be valid (in the case of price comparisons for non rate-regulated utilities, only a commencement date is provided). Suppliers must use a price comparison with content that reflects the pricing that is in effect on the date the price comparison is provided to a low-volume consumer. For example, the electricity price comparison to be provided to a consumer on October 25th of a given year must be prepared using the price comparison that is valid on that date (showing RPP prices that apply until October 31st), even if a new price comparison template has been posted with the RPP prices that will become effective on November 1st.

5. Will suppliers be able to include version control/tracking numbers on the documents?

Suppliers may enter a document control number in the form field that appears in the lower right corner of the front page. The document control number must be in a font size no larger than Arial 8, and may be numeric, alphabetic, or alpha-numeric but may not include the suppliers name or a date.

6. Where is it mandated that the disclosure statements or price comparisons must be printed in legal size?

The restated Codes of Conduct provide that a disclosure statement is to be in the applicable form approved by the Board, and a price comparison is to be in the form and with the content that is made available by the Board. Where the document available on the website is legal size, then legal size must be used.

7. Can source references for the gas prices on the price comparison templates be provided to the suppliers?

These will be made available in association with future releases of the gas price comparison templates.

8. If marketing to a low-volume commercial consumer, what price comparison templates need to be used, residential or non-residential?

Non-residential price comparison templates should be used for commercial consumers.

9. For internet agreements, is a PDF format considered to be text-based?

The Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010 defines text-based as capable of being read by an individual... A document in PDF format is capable of being read by an individual and is therefore considered to be text-based unless and until a regulation is made prescribing a different form, format or medium that must be adhered to. Suppliers are reminded that Ontario Regulation 389/10 sets out requirements for contracts entered into over the internet, including the following: (a) the website must provide the terms and conditions of available contracts (among other things) without requiring the consumer to commence a transaction; (b) the consumer must have the option to download or print each form of available contract (among other things); and (c) the supplier must deliver a text-based copy of the contract (among other things) to the e-mail address provided by the consumer.

10. If the price comparison is carried over to the second page, which page should the customer signature and date be on, and can page numbering be added?

The customer's signature and date must remain on page 1. The issue of pagination has been addressed in the instructions contained in the price comparison templates as follows: ...If additional pages are used, the following text must appear in the text box in Part B: Offer continues on page(s) x.

11. How should suppliers disclose transportation costs on the gas price comparison template when in some cases the supplier may not know whether the consumer's transportation service is from a Western or Ontario point?

Price comparisons using the Board-approved templates are intended to enable a consumer to compare his or her current utility price with the contract price offered by the supplier over the entire term of the contract. In accordance with the instructions for completing Part B of the gas price comparison templates, the gas marketer must break down the contract price to separately show each element of the contract price, which in the case of some templates charges for transportation would need to be shown separately. Where transportation is included in the contract price, the transportation charges must be identified as [Name of Marketer] Price. Where transportation is not included in the contract price, the transportation charges must be identified as Utility Price. Where transportation is included in the contract price and is variable, the marketer must also identify that the price will change over the term of the contract and include a narrative description of the price that includes how the price is derived and when and the basis on which changes to the price will be determined over the term of the contract.

12. Would the Board consider using the as filed numbers from the gas QRAM applications to populate the price comparison templates which would give marketers additional lead time to print?

The price comparison has no official standing unless and until the rates are approved by the Board. While the as filed rates may be approved by the Board without changes, until those rates are, in fact, approved they will not be included in Part A of the price comparison template.

1. The CRTC requires telemarketers to identify both the name of the telemarketer and the name of the client, if any, on whose behalf it is communicating. Can the scripts be revised to include this change?

On December 24, 2010, revised Board-approved scripts were posted to make this option available to suppliers.

2. When will the revised electricity scripts that have been updated to include a reference to the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit be available?

The revised Board-approved electricity scripts for verification and renewal were posted on December 24, 2010.

3. When a contract includes multiple site locations, can all locations be included in one verification call?

At the December 14, 2010 stakeholder meeting, Board staff indicated that it would bring forward to the Board the potential to accommodate this request, on the understanding that the multiple location script would apply only: (a) to non-residential consumers; (b) where all of the locations are covered by the same contract; and (c) where all of the terms and conditions (including price and term) are the same for all locations. Update on this issue is pending.

4. Can a consumer with multiple locations which are each separate accounts that may individually consume not more than 150,000 kWh of electricity annually or 50,000 cubic metres of gas annually, but in the aggregate consume 150,000 kWh or more annually or 50,000 cubic metres or more annually be considered a single high-volume consumer?

No. Each account is considered to be a separate consumer for the purposes of determining whether the low-volume consumption threshold is exceeded.

1. Will the Board provide an acknowledgement letter based on the electronic filing of the Certificate of Compliance or only when the signed hard copy is filed?

Acknowledgements of Certificates of Compliance will not be issued until the Board is in receipt of an original signed hard (i.e., paper) copy of the Certificate of Compliance.

2. How many signed hard copies of the Certificate of Compliance need to be filed?

One.

1. Will suppliers receive notification prior to the commencement of an inspection?

Yes.

1. Does the cost assessment apply to licensed electricity retailers that retail only to high-volume consumers?

No.

1. Will there be a dedicated contact person or person(s) to respond to questions related to the implementation of the Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010 and associated Board regulatory requirements?

Questions can be submitted to OEB Industry Relations. Contact us here.

2. Under the restated Codes of Conduct, refresher training and testing is required for each salesperson and verification representative once every 12 months. Must a supplier provide that refresher training and testing according to the exact 12-month timeline from the initial date of testing for each individual salesperson and verification representative, or may the supplier schedule all salespersons and verification representatives for refresher training and testing on a group basis?

It would be reasonable for a supplier to provide refresher training and testing within a 9 - 12 month period after initial training, provided that for any individual salesperson or verification agent the refresher training and testing is completed no later than 12 months after the date of completion of the initial training.

3. What charges or costs are required to be refunded under section 25(2) of Ontario Regulation 389/10? Is it only the charges or costs collected by a distributor on the suppliers behalf, in which case it is assumed that this would not include the Global Adjustment?

Section 23(1) of the Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010 requires a supplier to refund to a consumer any amount paid by the consumer under the contract in certain cases. Similarly, under section 25 of Ontario Regulation 389/10, the prescribed amount to be refunded to a consumer in another case is the total of all amounts, if any, paid by the consumer under the contract. Under both sections, the amount of the refund is any amount that the contract required or committed the consumer to pay and that were paid. To be clear, the amount of the refund is not a lesser amount represented by the difference between the contract price and the wholesale market price. The Global Adjustment and Final RPP Variance Settlement Amount are amounts that are payable by a consumer in accordance with regulations or the Boards regulatory requirements, respectively. As such, they are not amounts paidunder the contract and are therefore not amounts that need to be refunded to a consumer by the retailer under the above-noted sections.