Ontario Energy Board accepts Assurance of Voluntary Compliance from PUC Distribution Inc.

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has accepted an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) from PUC Distribution Inc. (PUC Distribution), a licensed electricity distributor, following an inspection into the company’s disconnection practices which were found to be non-compliant with OEB rules.

Under the terms of the AVC, PUC Distribution will pay an administrative monetary penalty of $20,000 and make an additional payment of $25,000 to the social agency that runs the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) in PUC Distribution’s service territory.

An AVC is a binding commitment by a regulated entity to take measures to rectify or prevent non-compliance. Failure to abide by the terms of an AVC can lead to enforcement action being taken by the OEB.

Through the OEB’s inspection, PUC Distribution identified that disconnection notices sent to 3,656 customers between May 1, 2019 and November 14, 2019 did not comply with all of the requirements of the OEB’s Distribution System Code (DSC). Of these customers, 303 had their electricity disconnected and 178 were charged reconnection fees. Under the AVC, PUC Distribution will provide a full refund to those customers that paid reconnection fees. 

The DSC requires a distributor to provide a minimum number of days’ notice to a customer prior to disconnection, and to include certain information in their disconnection notices.  The disconnection notices issued to the affected PUC Distribution customers were based on an incorrect calculation of the earliest date on which disconnection may occur, and as a result these customers were not given proper notice of their possible disconnection. The disconnection notices also did not contain a reference to an OEB-prescribed arrears payment agreement that may be available to all residential customers.

Under the AVC, PUC Distribution will deliver a letter to each customer that received a non-compliant disconnection notice to inform them of its non-compliance and of the additional funding being provided to the LEAP social agency. PUC Distribution assures the OEB that it has updated its customer disconnection notice and that it has put in place internal system improvements to prevent recurrence of non-compliance.

Utilities must give customers proper notice before disconnection and ensure that their disconnection notices contain the information required by the OEB. That way, customers know by when they must make payment to avoid disconnection, and that there are payment options that may be available to help them avoid disconnection. With the actions we have taken, as well as the assurance from PUC Distribution that it is aware of its obligations related to disconnection and that it takes those obligations seriously, customers will be better protected.”
– Brian Hewson, Vice-President, Consumer Protection & Industry Performance

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About the Ontario Energy Board

The OEB is the independent regulator of Ontario’s electricity and natural gas sectors. It protects consumers and makes decisions that serve the public interest. Its goal is to promote a sustainable and efficient energy sector that provides consumers with reliable energy services at a reasonable cost.

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