All electricity pricing pilots now underway

OEB-led project will inform a redesign of electricity prices under the Regulated Price Plan

A group of residential customers served by six electricity utilities have enrolled in different electricity pricing plans as part of a pilot project led by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) that is intended to test ways to help consumers better manage their electricity costs while also helping make the system more efficient.

CustomerFirst, a collaboration of Espanola Regional Hydro Distribution, Greater Sudbury Hydro, Newmarket-Tay Power Distribution, North Bay Hydro Distribution, Northern Ontario Wires and PUC Distribution, was selected by the OEB to pilot two pricing plans. This is part of a larger OEB-led project that will help inform a redesign of the Regulated Price Plan (RPP), under which the OEB sets prices that apply to more than 90 per cent of the province’s electricity customers. The time-of-use (TOU) pricing plans being tested by CustomerFirst are:

  • Enhanced TOU: Features a larger difference in price between off- and on-peak time periods. The off, mid- and on-peak daily time blocks remain the same as shown below.
  • Seasonal TOU: Charges customers a flat rate in the spring (March-May) and fall (September-November). For the winter (December-February) and summer (June-August) weekdays, there are two time blocks with on- and off-peak prices only.

With the launch of CustomerFirst’s pricing pilot, which will run until Aug. 31, 2019, all electricity pricing pilots are now underway as part of the OEB’s ongoing review of the RPP. The OEB has also selected Alectra Utilities, London Hydro and Oshawa Power to run electricity pricing pilots.

What This Means for Ontario Energy Consumers

  • TOU pricing, which has been fully implemented in Ontario since 2012, has had some success in encouraging residential consumers to shift their energy consumption at peak times, but research showed there are areas for improvement.
  • In response, the OEB is supporting pricing pilots with residential consumers to test ways of giving them more control over their electricity costs while also helping improve system efficiency.
  • Modified RPP pricing could have a positive impact on conservation and demand management. If RPP customers can dependably reduce or shift their usage out of peak demand periods, it could allow the province to avoid investments that might otherwise be needed.

“All of these pilots are giving us the real-world experiences of 15,000 Ontario electricity customers to help inform how we can improve the RPP. They are designed to test how consumers respond to greater choice, stronger incentives and more information. We look forward to analyzing the results.” – Ceiran Bishop, director of strategic policy at the OEB.

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