Last week, the significant decision was made at Queen’s Park to pass Bill 95, otherwise known as the Protecting Vulnerable Energy Consumers Act, 2017. The bill grants regulators, the Ontario Energy Board, additional powers to restrict when local distribution companies, such as Hydro Ottawa, can disconnect customers.
Included in these restrictions is a ban on residential disconnections for the winter period up until April 30, 2017. Additionally, distributors must also reconnect all disconnected homes as soon as possible at no charge, and remove any load-limiting devices that have been installed as an alternative to disconnection.
The Ontario Energy Board will conduct a comprehensive review of its customer service rules for both electricity and natural gas distributors over the coming months and develop more enduring rules relating to disconnection to ensure the safety of those customers who may encounter struggles to pay their bills.
I have heard from many residents over the years fearful for what might happen in the winter months should their electricity be shut off for a prolonged period of time, some of whom care for young children or sick relatives. I am happy to hear that those residents will be protected for the remainder of this winter season and I look forward to hearing the results of this review when they are released.