Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro customers are now paying a lower, off-peak electricity rate of 8.5 cents per kilowatt hour, whether they are currently time-of-use or tiered customers.
The lower rate went into effect Jan. 1 and lasts for 28 days.
The decrease in rates was intended as assistance to those in Ontario staying home during the COVD-19 shutdown, says NOTL Hydro president Tim Curtis.
That reduction will be reflected in the February hydro bill, he says. After Jan. 28, customers will go back to their time-of-use or tiered rate.
The 8.5 cents/kWh hour is equal to the off-peak rate for time-of-use customers, as set by the Ontario Energy Board.
The tiered rates in December were set at 12.6 and 14.6 cents/kWh.
The new rates for Jan. 29 to May 1 are after the government decided to bear the excess costs of the Green Energy Act. “The rates are lower,” explains Curtis, “but the rebate is also lower, so the net result will be minimal.”
For larger businesses that did not previously get the rebate, and are not being given a lower rate, the effect will be a significant reduction in cost, says Curtis. That’s a move he praises. NOTL Hydro has been calling for many years to remove these costs from all electricity ratepayers and to treat all business customers as fairly as residential customers, he says.
On May 1, the tiered and time-of-use rates are meant to be reset. “Anybody who made a decision with regards to getting the tiered or time-of-use rates should re-evaluate at that time,” says Curtis.
“Given recent history, it would not surprise me if we have other changes between now and May 1, 2021, but I have no more knowledge than your readers as to this.”
The Ontario plan to reduce costs to the consumer does not decrease the cost of producing electricity in Ontario. It simply transfers the cost from ratepayers to taxpayers, says Curtis.
“The cost of producing the electricity has not gone away. Any time the prices are lower than the cost is a subsidy, and that is borne by the taxpayer.”
However, he adds, there is a benefit of lowering electricity rates in a time like this. “Most everyone has to pay for electricity, either directly or as part of their rent. They also have to pay it every month. Reducing the cost of electricity is an effective way of getting money in the hands of most Ontarians quickly, by reducing their current costs. Proportionally, it also provides a bigger benefit to those less well off.”