The Ontario Energy Board is checking with Ontarians on whether people signing retail energy contracts need stronger consumer protection.
Hundreds of thousands of residential and small business consumers in Ontario currently have contracts with energy retailers for the supply of their natural gas or electricity.
The Chair and CEO of the OEB, Rosemarie Leclair, says the Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010, which governs low-volume energy retailing in Ontario, is now three years old. “So the government has asked us to review the legislation and see how well these consumers are being protected.”
Retail energy contracts give natural gas and electricity consumers a choice of pricing options that are different from those offered by their utility. Several energy retailers also offer “green energy” to consumers, selling them the output of renewable and other alternative energy producers.
“Some consumers like those choices,” says Karim Karsan, Vice President of Consumer Services at the Board. “But others feel they have not received the benefits they were expecting. About half the complaints the Board gets involve energy retailers.”
Leclair says the review of the Energy Consumer Protection Act will involve more than just consumers. “We will be reaching out to energy retailers, utilities and other stakeholders to get their views on the level of consumer protection that is appropriate.”
“But the public’s point of view is crucial to getting it right,” says Leclair. “That’s why we launched an on-line survey at www.ECPAreview.ca this week to make it easy for consumers to get involved in the review.”
Consumers who have questions about retail energy contracts can call the Board’s Consumer Relations Centre at 1-877-632-2727.
They can also go on-line and use the Board’s Bill Calculator to compare the prices from an energy retailer with the price charged by their electricity or natural gas utility.