OEB Introduces Process For Online Verification of Retail Contracts
On January 31, 2017, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) issued a Notice of Proposal setting out changes to the Codes of Conduct for Electricity Retailers and Gas Marketers that would allow verification of energy retail contracts to be done online. The proposed rules require the energy marketer's third party representative to send an email to the consumer, using prescribed language, and have a secure online verification process. In order to verify the contract, the consumer must go through the verification process on the representative's secure website and verify a series of detailed statements, similar to the telephone verification process. The retailer is not permitted to issue repeated reminders to a consumer to complete the verification process - only one reminder each week is allowed.
The OEB has invited interested parties to submit comments about the proposed online verification process by February 22, 2017.
On the same day as it published the proposed new online verification rules, the OEB also took the opportunity to remind the public about the new consumer-friendly rules for energy retailing that came into effect on January 1, 2017. As we have discussed in prior posts (see here and here), and as set out in the OEB's press release, the new rules ban door-to-door energy retailers from signing a consumer up for an energy retail contract while they are at the consumer's home (though retailers can go door-to-door to present consumers with information). All energy retail contracts will include OEB-approved language and automatic renewals are no longer permitted. Additionally, all energy retail contracts must be verified by consumers after the ten-day cooling off period has expired - otherwise the contract will not be valid. When the rules described above come into force, the verification can be done online.