Ontario Electricity Support Program is Being Launched
As discussed in previous posts (here and here), the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has been mandated to introduce an Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP), to provide financial assistance to low-income electricity consumers. The OESP will be funded by electricity ratepayers, though a per-kilowatt hour charge on electricity bills. As noted earlier, it is expected that the monthly OESP credit will be between $30 and $50. The OESP is to be implemented as of January 1, 2016.
The OEB has now launched the website (www.OntarioElectricitySupport.ca ) where low-income electricity consumers can sign up for the OESP. When visiting that site, visitors can get more information about the OESP, and can make application to start receiving OESP credits beginning on January 1, 2016. This does not leave a lot of lead time for eligible consumers, as the OEB has said that it will take 6 to 8 weeks to process OESP applications. Once a consumer is deemed eligible, they will receive the OESP for two years before having to re-qualify.
The OEB has also issued a Program Manual to assist distributors, unit sub-meterers and intake agencies who will be delivering the OESP.
As part of an ongoing OEB Consultation related to the implementation of the OESP, distributors requested that they should be able to recover not only the program costs, but also the implementation costs, which are said to be "considerable". In response, the OEB indicated that it does not believe that the costs will be material but reminded distributors that there are options available if the costs are significant. The OEB indicated that a distributor may apply under the Incremental Capital Module, or may request a deferral account for significant operating expenditures. The OEB's response signals that any recovery of implementation costs will be on a case-by-case basis, and will likely be difficult to establish.