Ontario's electricity 'recovery rate' could lead to higher hydro bills

TORONTO - A new provincial COVID-19 measure, designed to give Ontario ratepayers "stability" on their hydro bills this summer, could result in slightly higher hydro costs over the next four months.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford's government announced over the weekend that consumers would be charged a single around-the-clock electricity rate between June and November, replacing the much-derided time-of-use model ratepayers have complained about for years.

Instead of being charged between 10 to 20 cents per kilowatt hour, depending on the time of day electricity is used, hydro users will be charged a blanket rate of 12.8 cents per kWh.

"The new rate will simply show up on your bill," Premier Doug Ford said at a Monday afternoon news conference.

While the government said the new fixed rate would give customers "greater flexibility" to use their home appliances without having to wait for the cheapest rate -- the new policy also effectively erases a pandemic-related hydro discount for millions of consumers.

For example, a pre-pandemic bill of $59.90 with time-of-use rates, will now cost $60.28 with the government's new recovery rate, before delivery charges, rebates and taxes.

That same bill would have been much cheaper -- $47.57 -- if the government continued applying the lowest tier of time-of-use 24/7 as it had been doing since March 24.

The government also introduced two new assistance programs to help customers struggling to pay their bills.

The COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program will provide a one-time payment consumers to help pay off electricity debt incurred during the pandemic -- which will cost the government $9 million.

The government will spend another $8 million to provide similar assistance to small businesses hit hard by the pandemic.


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