Ontario supports those struggling with electricity bills amid COVID-19 outbreak
At a June 1 press conference, Ontario Premier Doug Ford discussed additional measures to help cope with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and announced that the province will support those struggling to pay electricity bills amid the pandemic.
Today (June 1), the government of Ontario made an announcement that it will continue to support provincial electricity consumers by providing stability and greater customer choice.
The announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Bill Walker, Associate Minister of Energy.
Initiatives include $9 million for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) to support those who are struggling to pay their energy bills, $8 million for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB) to provide support to businesses struggling with bill payments and an extension of the Ontario Energy Board’s winter disconnection ban until July 31, 2020, to make sure that no one is disconnected from their natural gas or electricity service amid the pandemic.
CEAP will provide one-time payments to consumers which will help pay down any electricity bill debt incurred over the COVID-19 period.
Applications will be available through local utilities in the upcoming months.
The government recently announced that it will continue the suspension of time-of-use (TOU) electricity rates and that customers will be billed based on a new fixed COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8 cents per kilowatt-hour, starting on June 1, 2020.
“While we make progress to contain this deadly virus, we know people will need to stay home when possible and businesses will need ongoing support as we gradually and safely reopen the economy,” said Premier Ford.
“Providing additional rate relief, flexibility and customer choice will help ensure everyone can recover from this extraordinary crisis and get back to a life that is as normal as possible.”
Beginning on June 1, 2020, the new COVID-19 Recovery Rate will come into effect for electricity customers who pay TOU rates.
This fixed rate will apply to TOU customer bills 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will provide stability and certainty for consumers as the government restarts the economy as well as supports individuals and families who continue to be home.
The COVID-19 Recovery Rate will be in place until October 31, 2020, and will be followed by a new customer choice initiative.
Beginning November 1, 2020, customers will be able to choose a plan that is best suited for their household with the option of either TOU electricity rates or tiered pricing, which will provide a set rate for electricity up to a certain level of consumption.
“We recognize that businesses and families are living with a great deal of uncertainty, and they need to know what they can expect when they open their electricity bills every month,” said Minister Rickford.
“The new COVID-19 Recovery Rate will provide stability for Ontario electricity consumers, while we work to re-open our province and restart our economy.”
As part of its existing electricity cost relief programs, the Ontario government will continue to subsidize electricity bills by 31.8 per cent through the Ontario Electricity Rebate and is providing approximately $5.6 billion in 2020-21.
This will help ensure more affordable electricity bills for eligible residential, farm and small business consumers.
“With the financial hardships faced by so many in our province as a result of COVID-19, those struggling to pay their electricity bills need support,” said Minister Walker.
“This program, in partnership with the Ontario Energy Board and local distribution companies, will support electricity consumers by keeping rates stable and affordable.”
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