OEB COVID-19 Update

There are a number of measures being taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.                                                      

Updated February 22, 2021

We have implemented a work-from-home protocol for employees to support the continuation of our work, including responding to consumer and industry inquiries.

Here’s what you need to know during this time:

For consumers:

  • Bill assistance programs
  • There are programs available to help low-income consumers. Find out more at oeb.ca/billhelp.
    Last year, the government provided funding for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) to support residential, small business and registered charity customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of COVID-19. We updated the eligibility criteria on January 14, 2021, so that more customers may qualify for CEAP. Read more.
  • Other measures implemented
    • On March 19, 2020, the OEB extended the winter ban on electricity disconnections for non-payment for residential customers to July 31, 2020. Low-volume, small business customers were also protected by the ban. In addition, the OEB called on distributors to be more flexible on arrears payment arrangements. Read our Decision and Order.
    • The government is also providing $9 million for CEAP to support residential customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of COVID-19. Utilities and unit sub-meter providers began accepting applications for CEAP on July 13, 2020. Learn more about eligibility and how to apply for CEAP. The government is also providing $8 million to support small business customers that are struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of COVID-19, through a program similar to CEAP, the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB). The program launched on August 31, 2020. Learn more about eligibility and how to apply for CEAP-SB.
    • Also, as a reminder, electricity and natural gas distributors are banned from disconnecting residential customers for non-payment from November 15 to April 30.
  • Contact us
    • Our call centre remains open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
    • Within the Greater Toronto Area or from outside Ontario: 416-314-2455, or 1-877-632-2727 (toll-free within Ontario). 
    • We can also be reached by email: publicinformation@oeb.ca and chat. Start a chat now.

For industry:

  • Contact us
    • Our Industry Relations enquiries system remains operational. 
      Send an email to IndustryRelations@oeb.ca. Learn more about what information you should provide to allow us to respond more quickly. As we’re working remotely, our responses may take a little longer. Thank you for your understanding.
    • General enquiries about regulatory proceedings, case filings and submissions, as well as specific enquiries on any upcoming application filing deadlines, can be sent to: Registrar@oeb.ca.
    • Parties should contact the OEB staff lead for a given matter if they have any specific questions about currently scheduled deadlines on applications currently before the OEB.
  • As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the courts and other administrative agencies have started to conduct virtual hearings. The OEB is beginning to take steps to ensure that we are ready to hold virtual oral hearings, in the event it becomes necessary to do so. As we start to plan for conducting virtual hearings, we are seeking feedback from our stakeholders. For more information, see our consultation webpage.
  • To support the implementation of the government’s new COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP), on June 16, 2020, the OEB amended the licences of electricity distributors and unit sub-meter providers to require them to deliver CEAP to their eligible customers. The OEB also issued letters to four natural gas distributors setting out its expectations for their delivering CEAP to residential gas customers. The program launched on July 13, 2020. For more information, see our CEAP program webpage. On August 7, 2020, the OEB took a similar approach in enabling the implementation of CEAP for Small Business (CEAP-SB). For more information, see our CEAP-SB program webpage.
  • The OEB also recognizes that potential need for the Low-income Energy Assistance Program – Emergency Financial Assistance (LEAP EFA) may be greater this year. To support this potential increased need, the OEB has approved an increase in the amount that an electricity or gas distributor may recover for the purpose of contributing to LEAP EFA funding for 2020. Distributors may make a one-time increase to LEAP EFA funding by a maximum of 50% of their 2020 fiscal year funding amount. For more information, see our July 17, 2020 letter.
  • We waived the requirement to submit hard copies with each electronic filing in regulatory proceedings. And on June 23, 2020, we formally launched our Digitization Program – a transition to an entirely electronic record for all regulatory proceedings effective immediately. Applicants, intervenors and other stakeholders will continue to file their official electronic documents using our secure Regulatory Electronic Submission System (RESS). For more information, see our June 23, 2020 letter.
  • The OEB offered distributors whose rates would normally change May 1, 2020, the option to postpone the implementation of the rate change to November 1, 2020. This is in recognition that, while the COVID-19 emergency is having profound provincewide impacts, each distributor has its own unique circumstances that need to be factored in to a decision about what is in the best interests of customers in the immediate and longer term. For more information, see our April 16, 2020 letter.
  • The OEB recognizes that there may have been costs to distributors associated with implementing the Emergency Order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act that enabled residential and small business customers on TOU pricing to pay the off-peak price of 10.1 ¢/kWh - no matter what time of day the electricity was used - from March 24, 2020 until May 31, 2020. Although it is not expected that these costs will be material, the OEB is allowing distributors to track them, as well as any costs associated with the March 19, 2020 extension of the winter disconnection ban to July 31, 2020 and other costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, in a deferral account. The OEB understands that Ontario Power Generation Inc. (OPG) and electricity transmitters may also be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and confirms that the deferral account also applies to them. To learn more, visit our consultation webpage launched on May 14, 2020.
  • The OEB understands that, like other businesses, electricity distributors may be experiencing financial risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the OEB is monitoring the financial situation of electricity distributors during the pandemic for any impact on reliability or continued service to consumers. To assist in gathering information, we have issued temporary reporting requirements to licensed electricity distributors. To learn more, see our letters from May 12 and May 20, 2020.
  • Licensees and gas distributors are normally required to complete their annual Reporting and Record-Keeping Requirements (RRR) filings by April 30, 2020. We extended the filing deadline for annual RRR filings to June 1, 2020, recognizing that many licensees and gas distributors have been dealing with important customer service and staffing matters related to COVID-19.
  • We have made a number of operational changes regarding the scheduling or format of events in ongoing proceedings and consultations, and those remain in effect. To learn more, see our March 12, 2020 letter to all regulated entities and other interested parties.

We will update this information as needed if our protocols change as a result of evolving public health guidelines.