OEB's New Rules for Electricity Retailers and Gas Marketers to be Implemented on January 1, 2017
On September 8, 2016, the OEB issued a Revised Notice of Proposal detailing new rules that will apply to electricity retailers and gas marketers in Ontario beginning on January 1, 2017. These new rules are intended to implement recommendations that were set out in the OEB's June 2015 report to the Minister of Energy, Consumers Come First: A Report of the Ontario Energy Board on the Effectiveness of the Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010. The new rules are also intended to reflect and implement the changes to the Energy Consumer Protection Act (ECPA) that were enacted through Bill 112. The updated ECPA (including changes to the applicable Regulation) will come into force on January 1, 2017.
In previous posts, we have explained the recommendations in the OEB's Report, and have described the changes to the ECPA set out in Bill 112 and amended Regulations that are intended to address those recommendations.
The OEB's Revised Notice of Proposal indicates changes in relevant OEB Codes to business practices and requirements for electricity retailers and gas marketers. This builds upon comments received from stakeholders in response to the OEB's October 2016 Notice of Proposal on the same topic (described in an earlier post).
Key items in the Revised Notice of Proposal include the following:
- Electricity retailers and gas marketers will have to use standardized plain language terms and conditions in consumer contracts. The OEB plans to move towards standardized contracts later in 2017. To assist in this endeavor, retailers are requested to file a list of all provisions they would like to include in their contracts that are additional to the provisions included in the standardized terms and conditions. Retailers are also required to file with the OEB copies of all contracts they intend to use with low-volume customers in 2017.
- Where applicable, electricity retailers and gas marketers will be required to have the customer's distributor send a standardized letter (in an OEB-prescribed form) to customers, indicating that the customer is switching to an energy retailer.
- Distributor consolidated bills will include a mandatory statement, where applicable, indicating that the consumer's electricity or gas supply is being provided under contract with a retailer or marketer.
- Electricity retailers and gas marketers will be required to use a revised prescribed verification script when calling a consumer to confirm a retailer contract. The OEB has postponed consideration of whether the required contract verification can be done online, rather than by telephone.
Interested parties are invited to submit comments on the Revised Notice of Proposal by October 5, 2016.