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Frequently Asked Questions 

What are Time-of-Use prices?
Why are customers being switched to Time-of-Use prices?
Why does “peak demand” matter so much?
What is the difference between today’s electricity prices (RPP Two-Tiered Prices) and RPP Time-of-Use Pricing? 
Why is it so much more expensive to use electricity during weekdays?
What are the “holidays” that are included for off-peak pricing?
How are Time-of-Use prices calculated?
When will Time-of-Use pricing come into effect for me?
My neighbours have been switched to Time-of-Use pricing, why haven't I been switched?
Can you expedite the process of switching me to Time-of-Use pricing?
I understand that I will be able to view my electricity usage over the Internet. When can I set up my account?
I don’t have access to the Internet to view my electricity use online? What other options are available to me to learn about my electricity use patterns?
What are my best strategies to manage my electricity costs under Time-of-Use pricing? 
What other tips could you provide to manage my costs, reduce strain on the electricity system, and help the environment with Time-of-Use prices? 
Where can I learn more about what it costs to operate different appliances under Time-of-Use prices?
If everyone shifts their electricity usage, won’t it just create a peak period at another time?
Where will all the meter data be stored?
Is my personal information secure? 
Won’t I pay more for my electricity under Regulated Price Plan (RPP) Time-of-Use prices relative to today’s RPP Two-Tiered prices?
I am a senior/on a fixed income and I can't shift my usage. How can you help me? 
I operate a business. Won't these prices cost me more? 
If I have a contract with an electricity retailer, will I be switched to Time-of-Use prices?
I rely on electric heat and air conditioning and I believe that Time-of-Use prices will increase my bill significantly – what can I do about that?
What other service changes are being made by Hydro One when I am switched to Time-of-Use prices?
Why can I no longer send in my meter readings when I am switched to Time-of-Use pricing?



What are Time-of-Use prices?
Time-of-Use prices, as the name suggests, are electricity prices that vary based on the time of day, day of week (weekdays versus weekend), and by season (winter or summer) and more closely reflect the cost to produce electricity at different times. Prices for electricity rise and fall over the course of the day and tend to drop overnight and on weekends based on the amount of supply available and our levels of demand. Time-of Use periods and prices are set by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) and are subject to change each May and November.  The current periods and prices are shown in the table below. Off-peak prices apply from 7 p.m. to 7.a.m on weekdays and all day on weekends and holidays.

Time-of-Use Prices
(cents/kWh)
*

Summer
(May 1st - October 31st)

Winter
(November 1st - April 30th)

On-peak 13.5 ¢

Weekdays:
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Weekdays:
7 a.m. - 11 a.m. &  5 p.m. - 7 p.m.

 Mid-peak 11.2 ¢

Weekdays
7 a.m. - 11 a.m. & 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Weekdays
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

 Off-peak 7.5 ¢

Weekdays
7 p.m. - 7 a.m.

Weekends and Holidays
All day

Weekdays
7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Weekends and Holidays
All day

* Time-of-Use prices and periods as of May 1, 2014. Time-of-Use prices reflect the cost of the "Electricity" line of your bill only. Delivery, Regulatory, and Debt Retirement charges are additional line items found on your bill and are not included here.

Why are customers being switched to Time-of-Use prices?
Hydro One, together with all electricity distributing companies across Ontario, are switching consumers to Time-of-Use pricing as part of the provincial government initiative to help promote a culture of energy conservation across Ontario.   Between now and 2025, Ontario will need to replace about 80 per cent of its electricity system because it is aging.  Building new electricity supply will be vital – but so is energy conservation and demand management. Time-of-Use electricity pricing encourages consumers to shift electricity usage from on-peak to off-peak periods when possible, and thereby reduce the strain on the electricity system, help the environment, and provide customers with a new way of managing their electricity use (and costs).

Why does “peak demand” matter so much?
Supplying electricity at peak times (those times when we're all using a lot of electricity) has a range of impacts:

  • It adds to our electricity costs because higher demand often means higher market prices.
  • It's hard on the environment because more of the less attractive forms of generation must be run to meet them.
  • It adds to the amount that Ontario needs to invest in the system because meeting the peaks means building even more new generating facilities, and more transmission and distribution infrastructure — and that also adds to electricity costs.

So working together to reduce peak demand makes good sense.

What is the difference between today’s electricity prices (Regulated Price Plan Two-Tiered Prices) and Regulated Price Plan (RPP) Time-of-Use Pricing? 
RPP two-tiered prices are based on averaging the more expensive (weekday daytime) and less expensive (night-time and weekend) prices of electricity. Time-of-Use pricing better reflects what it costs to produce electricity at different times of the day and week. With Time-of-Use pricing, you’ll have a new way to help manage your electricity use (and costs), reduce the strain on the electricity system, and help the environment.

Why is it so much more expensive to use electricity during weekdays?
When everyone is using a lot of power at the same time a "peak demand" is created. Higher demand means higher electricity prices as more expensive types of generation are run to meet the demand. It can also mean importing electricity from more expensive jurisdictions on days when our own generation is not enough. Therefore, it makes sense for us to work collectively to reduce our usage at peak times to smooth out the peak.

What are the “holidays” that are included for off-peak pricing?
The days considered “holidays” for Time-of-Use pricing — the days when off-peak prices apply — are those days when a majority of Ontarians are absent from work. That's because on those days the demand for electricity is much lower than on a “normal” weekday. Visit the  Ontario Energy Board for a current listing of applicable holidays.

How are Time-of-Use prices calculated?
The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) sets prices for Regulated Price Plan (RPP) Time-of-Use prices in May and November each year.  Prices are based on the electricity supply cost forecast for the year ahead, and any adjustments required due to differences between what was paid and the actual electricity supply costs for the previous period.

When will Time-of-Use pricing come into effect for me?
Unfortunately, we’re not able to provide customers with the exact timing of when you'll be switched to Time-of-Use pricing. The switch is dependent on a range of factors, some of which are under Hydro One’s control (the installation of meters and the installation and testing of the network that enable the meters to communicate), and some of which are under the control of other organizations (the integration with the central Meter Data Management Repository responsible for storing all the meter readings across the province).  You will be notified directly in the mail of your switch to Time-of-Use prices in advance of the day you will begin being charged Time-of-Use prices.

My neighbours have been switched to Time-of-Use pricing, why haven't I been switched?
As much as possible, Hydro One tries to switch entire geographic areas to Time-of-Use prices at the same time.  In some cases, individual customers within a certain geographic area may not be switched due to a range of factors (e.g. meter not yet installed, meter not yet communicating and tested, bill timing, etc.).  Rest assured, you will be notified in advance of your move to Time-of-Use prices through direct mail.

Can you expedite the process of switching me to Time-of-Use pricing? 
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to expedite your move to Time-of-Use pricing as Hydro One is focusing its resources on switching customers to Time-of-Use prices on a geographic basis.

I understand that I will be able to view my electricity usage over the Internet. When can I set up my account? 
Once you have been notified in the mail that you’re being switched to Time-of-Use prices, you’ll be able to register to view your electricity use online by registering for My Account.  Initially, you’ll be able to view a few weeks of your consumption information.  As you accumulate your electricity usage information under Time-of-Use pricing, you’ll be able to access a growing history of your information.

I don’t have access to the Internet to view my electricity use online? What other options are available to me to learn about my electricity use patterns?
If you don’t have access to the internet, simply call Hydro One at 1-888-664-9376 (Monday to Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and we’ll provide you with a print-out of your electricity usage or we’ll provide you with a toll-free number to call to get your usage information over the phone.

What are my best strategies to manage my electricity costs under Time-of-Use pricing?
First, focus on learning about your electricity consumption patterns by viewing your electricity use once you have been notified that you're being switched to Time-of-Use pricing — you may be surprised at how much electricity you use and when.

Second, focus on getting more efficient and conserving electricity across all Time-of-use periods if possible.

Third, take action to shift your electricity use from on-peak to off-peak or mid-peak periods when possible. The most energy intensive appliances are those that heat or cool air or water — focus on shifting them first to help manage your costs, reduce strain on the electricity system, and help the environment. For example, when possible, do some of your laundry on weekends, shift dishwasher use to after 7:00 p.m., avoid running air conditioners from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays in the summer, or install a programmable thermostat for managing temperature in your home when you are at work or not at home.

What other tips could you provide to manage my costs, reduce strain on the electricity system, and help the environment with Time-of-Use prices? 
There are a number of things you can do to help manage your costs under Time-of-Use prices:

  • Wait for the weekend when possible
    ­Electricity demand is lower on the weekends; and so are electricity prices.  You can reduce your costs by waiting for the weekend to do energy intensive household tasks — such as using the cleaning function of your self cleaning oven.
  • Time for a timer
    ­Put your chargers on a power bar with a timer set to turn on and shut down during off-peak hours, when prices are lower.
  • If it's not “on”, turn it off
    ­Some electrical devices — computers, TV’s, audio equipment — draw electricity continually, even when they are not in use.  You can cut electricity consumption by putting them on a power bar and switching the power bar off when they’re not being used.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label
    ­Next time when you purchase a new appliance, consider one with timer functions that will allow you to benefit from Time-of-Use prices — and always look for the ENERGY STAR® label.

Where can I learn more about what it costs to operate different appliances under Time-of-Use prices?
To learn what it costs to operate different appliances during off, mid, and on-peak periods, visit “10 Smart Meter Lane”.

If everyone shifts their electricity usage, won’t it just create a peak period at another time? 
Electricity demand in Ontario is roughly split between 1/3 industrial, 1/3 commercial, and 1/3 residential.  Residential and small commercial customers would not be able to shift enough electricity use to create an entirely new peak demand period but rather their shifting will “flatten” the existing peak period and move it to the “shoulder” periods; thus reducing the strain on the electricity system and reducing the negative environmental impacts of generating electricity during peak periods.

Where will all the meter data be stored?
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) was engaged by the provincial government to build the Meter Data Management Repository (MDM/R) which receives and stores the hourly consumption information transmitted daily by each of Ontario’s over 80 local distribution companies.

Is my personal information secure?
Yes. Ontario's electricity distributors are required by law to ensure that smart meters and associated communication networks are equipped with security features to prevent unauthorized access. We must also comply with federal laws regarding the privacy, protection and disclosure of personal information. 

Furthermore, the only information that is transmitted by the smart metering system is the customer meter number and electricity consumption — the same information that was previously available on the old meter located at your premise. Customer personal information is not associated with a meter number until it is within Hydro One’s secure Customer Information System.

Won’t I pay more for my electricity under Regulated Price Plan (RPP) Time-of-Use prices relative to today’s RPP Two-Tiered prices?
Today’s RPP two-tiered prices are based on averaging the more expensive (weekday daytime) and less expensive (night-time and weekend) prices of electricity. Time-of-Use pricing more closely reflects what it costs to produce electricity at different times of the day and week. Bill impacts on Time-of-Use prices depend on both your electricity usage characteristics (how much electricity you use and when you use it), and how much electricity usage you can, or choose to, shift from on-peak to off-peak or mid-peak periods.

For the average customer, the electricity component of your bill under Time-of-Use prices will stay close to the same as the old two-tiered prices.  This is due in part to the fact that there are over 3 times as many off-peak hours (108) as there are on-peak (30 in the both the summer and winter) in a given week. For example, for every hour your fridge is running on-peak, there are three off-peak hours when you're paying less than the current tiered prices.  In this way, Time-of-Use prices tend to off-set one another for equipment that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

An analysis of about 600,000 Hydro One Time-of-Use bills issued between March and September in 2010 where 47% of the bills were lower (on average $5.03 per month) and 53% were slightly higher (on average $1.97 per month).

I am a senior/on a fixed income and I can't shift my usage. How can you help me?
Hydro One is aware there are circumstances where consumers may find it very difficult to shift their consumption patterns in response to Time-of-Use (TOU) prices. Unfortunately, Hydro One is not responsible for setting electricity prices — Time-of-Use prices are set by the Ontario Energy Board. There are, however, programs that you can take advantage of to help you offset or help you better manage your energy costs.

You may be eligible for the Northern Ontario Energy Credit if you pay rent or property tax for a principal residence in Ontario and live in Algoma, Cochrane, Kenora, Manitoulin, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Rainy River, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, or Timiskaming Districts (e.g., families could get up to $200 and singles up to $130). Visit the Ontario Ministry of Revenue website www.rev.gov.on.ca for details.

You may be eligible for the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit if you pay rent or property tax for a principal residence in Ontario (you could get up to $900 for 2010 to help with the sales tax you pay on energy and qualifying seniors can get up to $1,025 for 2010). Visit the Ontario Ministry of Revenue website www.rev.gov.on.ca for details.

I operate a business. Won't these prices cost me more?
Bill impacts under Time-of-Use prices are dependent on your electricity usage characteristics (both how much and when you use electricity).  It’s impossible to generalize what the bill impacts to business are given there are so many different types of businesses (e.g. retail outlet, dairy farm, restaurant, etc.). If you consume electricity primarily in on-peak and mid-peak periods during weekdays and have no opportunity to shift usage, there will be upward pressure on the electricity line item of your bill.  However, if you business has equipment that operates 24/7 (e.g., refrigeration, lighting, exhaust fans, etc), electricity costs would tend to balance out relative to today’s prices given that overnight and on weekends Time-of-Use prices are lower. When you have been notified of your switch to Time-of-Use prices, you’ll be able to become a more informed energy consumer by viewing your electricity use at HydroOne.com.  Then you’ll have the information you’ll need to better understand bill impacts and to consider your options.  For example, you could consider ways to reduce your electricity consumption across all time periods by becoming more efficient. Visit our Save Energy section to find out more about energy efficiency programs. You could also compare Time-of-Use pricing with other pricing options (e.g. a flat rate electricity contract with a retailer).

If I have a contract with an electricity retailer, will I be switched to Time-of-Use prices? 
No. Your electricity prices will be determined by the terms and conditions of the contract you have with your retailer. However, when your retail contract expires and if you choose not to enter into a new contract, the price of your electricity will be calculated using Time-of-Use electricity prices. Even though you’re not moving to Time-of-Use prices now, you can still get real feedback about your electricity use. Simply set up an account at www.HydroOne.com/MyAccount to securely view your electricity use by hour, by day, or by billing period.

I rely on electric heat and air conditioning and I believe that Time-of-Use prices will increase my bill significantly – what can I do about that?
Bill impacts associated with Time-of-Use prices are dependent on when you use appliances and equipment.  To the extent that appliances are operated 24 hours a day 7 days a week (e.g., electric heat), there should be minimal or no bill impact given that there are more off-peak than on-peak hours over a 7 day period.  The actual breakdown of on-peak/mid-peak/off-peak hours is 30/30/108 in both summer and winter seasons.

For equipment that is operated during peak hours (e.g. air conditioning during the afternoon on a hot summer day) the electricity price will be higher, reflecting the cost to produce electricity during peak times.  In cases where customers have a choice of when they operate appliances, (e.g., clothes washer, clothes dryer, dishwasher, etc.), they can reduce costs by shifting to off-peak periods.
Specifically in the case of where customers both want to use their air conditioner and want to manage their costs, consider installing a programmable thermostat and setting it to cool your home in the early morning off-peak and mid-peak periods.  Set it to increase the temperature during the afternoon on-peak period from 11 - 5 pm and use a fan to keep the air circulating. In addition, consider the following air conditioning tips:

  • Set the fan switch on your thermostat to “automatic” instead of “on” or “continuous” to save electricity
  • Shade central air conditioning outdoor units with trees or shrubs to use up to 10% less electricity (but make sure you don’t block the air flow around the unit)
  • During the day, draw you’re your blinds to block the warming effect of direct sunlight
  • Close the fireplace damper tightly to keep cooled air from leaking out
  • Service your central air system annually.

What other service changes are being made by Hydro One when I am switched to Time-of-Use prices? 
When you’re notified in the mail of your switch to Time-of-Use prices, there are a number of service improvements and changes that will take effect:

  • Customers can set up an account at www.HydroOne.com/MyAccount to securely view their electricity use by hour, by day, or by billing period
  • Whatever your bill payment schedule (with the exception of budget billing), all bills will be based on actual usage for the billing period under normal conditions
  • Bi-monthly billed customers will move to more regular and routine monthly billing
  • No change to billing frequency for monthly and quarterly billed customers but bills will be based on actual usage for the billing period under normal conditions
  • Customers will no longer have the need (or ability) to send us their meter readings.

Why can I no longer send in my meter readings when I am switched to Time-of-Use pricing?
Once you make the switch to Time-of-Use pricing, the cost for your electricity use (the electricity line item of your bill) will be based not only on how much electricity you use, but also on when you use it (off-peak, mid-peak, on-peak).  Given that your meter only displays your total electricity consumption, sending us your meter reading isn’t enough information to calculate your bill.

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