OEB COVID-19 Update

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

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

For consumers:

  • Bill assistance programs
    • The Government of Ontario introduced the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) and the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB) last year as temporary measures to support energy customers through pandemic lockdowns. In June 2021, as the province moved forward with its reopening plan, the Government asked the OEB to take the necessary steps to ensure any remaining CEAP and CEAP-SB funds are distributed to customers in need while working with utilities to wind down the program. In October 2021, overall program funding was effectively depleted. There are a number of programs available in Ontario to help low-income energy consumers. You can learn more at oeb.ca/billhelp.
    • In July 2021, in order to maximize emergency financial assistance at a time when energy customers need it most, we made some temporary changes to the screening guidelines used by social agencies in evaluating applications to the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP). Read more.
  • Other measures implemented
    • In April 2021, the OEB banned distributors from issuing disconnection notices for residential electricity customers for non-payment during Ontario’s stay-at-home measures. Read more.
    • In March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, 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.
    • We have issued alerts warning consumers of misleading offers and other efforts to take advantage of them during the COVID-19 pandemic. See our consumer alerts (April 17, 2020, February 3, 2021, April 28, 2021June 25, 2021 and August 12, 2021).
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • The OEB is holding virtual oral hearings. See our Virtual Hearings Guide to learn more.
  • To implement CEAP, a program to support residential, small business and registered charity customers, the OEB amended the licences of electricity distributors and unit sub-meter providers and issued letters to natural gas distributors. For more information, see our CEAP program webpage and CEAP-SB program webpage.
  • To support greater potential need for the LEAP – Emergency Financial Assistance (LEAP EFA), the OEB 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 were able to 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 was 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 into 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.
  • Shortly after the Government of Ontario declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OEB established a deferral account for all rate-regulated electricity and natural gas utilities to record incremental costs associated with the pandemic. After consulting with utilities, consumer groups and other stakeholders on establishing guidelines for the deferral account, the OEB issued the Report of the Ontario Energy Board: Regulatory Treatment of Impacts Arising from the COVID-19 Emergency on June 17, 2021. The report reflects the culmination of the consultation. 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 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 of each year. Last year, we extended the filing deadline for annual RRR filings to June 1, 2020, and this year we extended it to May 17, 2021, 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.