Campaign offers tips on choosing energy supplier

COBOURG, ONTARIO - If you're wondering just what it is that "energy" people knocking on doors are expecting from homeowners, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has launched The Energy Choice is Yours, a new province-wide campaign aimed at informing residential and small business consumers about their options for energy supply.

Because energy consumers are continually asking about their rights, their choices in the market and the role of electricity retailers and natural gas marketers, the OEB answered the call with this latest campaign.

"The marketplace, especially for electricity, has changed significantly in the past few years, and there are more options and information that people need to be aware of," chief compliance officer Brian Hewson says.

"We want to ensure consumers have the facts so they can make informed decisions about their energy choices. Our message to consumers is that The Energy Choice is Yours."

A series of tip sheets are now available on the board's web site that focuses on reminding consumers that they can choose who supplies their energy, have a 10-day "cooling-off period" after signing a contract to research and ask questions, read and understand all contracts they sign, and can access the OEB web site or call the Consumer Relations Centre for more information.

The tip sheets are designed to help consumers better understand their choices, their rights and their responsibilities when it comes to choosing energy supply.

According to the OEB, consumers should never show door-to-door salespeople their power bill because it could be used to lock them into contracts - because showing a salesman your bill is similar to giving out your credit card.

"Don't hand over your utility bill unless you want to enter into a contract," Mr. Hewson told a news conference on last week. "Make sure you understand what you're agreeing to. Signing up with a private retailer means forgoing prices that are regulated by the province."

He said that thousands of consumers sign up for new contracts all the time with the approximately 20 private electricity and natural gas companies and that there are about 500,000 home electricity contracts up for renewal over the next few months.

According to Mr. Hewson, customers who have signed contracts with natural gas companies before July 30, 2005, are told to beware as retailers can automatically renew contracts for one year with a new price without the consumer's consent. The OEB gets thousands of calls from concerned consumers unaware of provincial legislation.

For more information on the OEB, please visit the Web site at www.oeb.gov.on.ca or contact Consumer Relations Centre at 416-314-2455 or toll-free at 1-877-632-2727.



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