Hydro rates to be temporarily reduced by Ontario amid coronavirus pandemic

WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford and other government officials provide an update on COVID-19, including an announcement on hydro rates on March 24, 2020.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the province is eliminating mid-peak and on-peak electricity rates giving residents who have been forced to stay home due to the COVID-19 outbreak the lowest rate available (off-peak) all day – for 45 days.

“To help families and households across the province, we are switching to off-peak time-of-use electricity rates, saving customers over 50 per cent compared to peak rates for the next 45 days,” Ford announced Tuesday.

The lowest electricity rate is also being extended to small businesses and farms.

“This means you will pay the lowest rate possible, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Ford said, adding that the rate will automatically apply effective immediately.

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“The savings will simply show up on your next bill.”

Late Monday night, the government released a list of businesses deemed essential services that are allowed to remain open. All other businesses have been ordered to close by Tuesday at 11:59 p.m.

Click to play video: 'Ontario slashes hydro rates providing relief during coronavirus pandemic'
Ontario slashes hydro rates providing relief during coronavirus pandemic

According to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), the off-peak rate is 10.1 cents per kilowatt an hour, the mid-peak rate is 14.4 cents per kilowatt an hour, and on-peak rate is 20.8 cents per kilowatt an hour.

Those under the current time-of-use pricing system will remain solely at the lower, off-peak rate for 45 days.

“This is calibrated over what we consider a reasonable amount of time to think about where we are now, and prospectively where families will be in the coming weeks,” Minister of Energy Greg Rickford said, adding that the 45 day number puts people past the end of April.

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“We are comfortable that by mid-May, if not shortly before, we will be able to assess appropriately whether any other interventions would be required in terms of a time extension,” Rickford said.

The OEB extended the winter ban on electricity disconnections for all residential and low-volume small business customers to July 31. Normally, the winter period is from Nov. 1 to April 30.

They also called on distributors to be more flexible on arrears payment arrangements.

Hydro One applauded the government’s decision on Tuesday and said it is “ready to apply temporary electricity relief rates.”

“With an unprecedented number of people staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we believe people should be focused on keeping their family safe and not on what time of day they should do laundry or wash dishes,” said Mark Poweska, president and CEO of Hydro One. “Families, communities, hospitals, grocery stores and other essential services need us now more than ever.

“We are focused on the most essential work to keep the power on and postponing non-critical work to protect employees, customers and communities from being exposed to the virus.”

Click to play video: 'Premier Doug Ford orders closure of all non-essential workplaces'
Premier Doug Ford orders closure of all non-essential workplaces

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