Ontario’s three Classes of electricity ratepayers

The title above is intentionally misleading.

Ontario has only two classes of ratepayers which are: large industrial users referred to as, Class A and the rest as simply Class B!

Class A’s do have sub-categories related to their peak demands and in order to obtain lower rates, they must pick the “high five” hours of the year when Ontario’s demand reaches its highest level(s).  Picking those hours and reducing their demand (by firing up a diesel generator) allows them to achieve significant savings. Reference to IESO’s report for 2019 detailing Class A consumption and the cost of the GA allocated, indicates the average cost of the GA (Global Adjustment) was 5.89 cents/kwh. That GA cost plus the average HOEP of 1.83 cents/kWh for 2019 produced an average cost of electricity for Class A ratepayers of 7.72 cents/kWh.  The substantial all-in lower cost of electricity for Class A ratepayers is due to the allocation (subsidy) of the GA costs being charged to Class B ratepayers.

The Ontario Liberal Party during its time in power piled up electricity costs by signing contracts well above market rates for intermittent and unreliable power from wind and solar which needed back-up power from gas plants.  The combination of the three sources of power drove rates up resulting in large industrial customers making the point: Ontario’s cost of electricity made them uncompetitive.  The result was the Liberals simply reallocated costs to residential and small/medium sized companies.

The all-in Class B rate (GA plus HOEP) for 2019 was 12.63 cents/kWh.

Recently, not all Class B ratepayers had to pay the foregoing average rate, as “residential ratepayers” * now receive a taxpayer subsidy, appearing on our electricity bills as the “Ontario Electricity Rebate”.   A “rebate” of 25% off of the electricity line on our bills was initially referenced as the “Fair Hydro Plan” and enacted by the Wynne led government mere months prior to the last provincial election.  The Liberal government, under Wynne, noted voters were extremely upset with electricity rates climbing by over 100% in just several years. They felt it would affect the outcome of the election without the rebate.  Despite the rebate Ontario’s Liberal Party felt the wrath of the electorate and lost party status.  The Ford government moved the rebate to taxpayers and added other allocations such as:  conservation spending ($400 million annually), low income support programs ($200 million annually), Northern Ontario tax credit ($120 million annually) etc. to the taxpayer pot.  As a result (based on the writer’s calculation) taxpayers are now picking up almost 40% of the GA allocated costs for residential ratepayers under the “Electricity Cost Relief Program” recently estimated to cost $5.5 billion.

Second class, Class B ratepayers

The small and medium sized businesses** in Ontario are still bearing the full brunt of the increased electricity costs as they get no relief.  They are treated as second class citizens of Class B which are already regarded as second class citizens by our electricity operator. A significant factor affecting them is related to Ontario’s time-of use rates with the highest costs (20.8 cents/kWh during On-Peak hours) applied to when most small/medium sized businesses are operating and consuming electricity.

A recent occurrence allowed me to review an electricity bill for a company with just under 100 employees.  Their electricity costs were 18.9 cents/kWh.  A comparable company operating in the USA would pay (average of all US states) 10.8 cents/kWh according to the US Energy Information Administration.  The net difference of 8.1 cents/kWh would have saved the company almost $200,000 annually which may have resulted in the hiring of additional staff.  Those employees would have produced additional taxes for the Provincial and Federal coffers.

Bear in mind this is only one of the hundreds of thousands of small/medium sized businesses in Ontario.  Imagine what would have happened if we had not contracted at those above market rates for the intermittent and expensive power generated by those many foreign wind and solar generators that rushed to Ontario to take our hard-earned dollars.

The time has come to treat Ontario’s largest employers with the respect they deserve by axing the Global Adjustment and the time-of-use pricing mechanism!

We should surmise those small/medium sized companies are not in favour of subsidizing large industrial complexes or those greenhouse operators producing marijuana!  Let’s level the playing field!

*Full disclosure! I calculated my average electricity line cost from my recent bill (adjusted for the “Electricity Cost Relief Program”) and it worked out to 9.11 cents/kWh

**The CFIB in a 2016 report stated Ontario had 1.4 million small/medium sized businesses.

Author: parkergallantenergyperspectivesblog

Retired international banker.

4 thoughts on “Ontario’s three Classes of electricity ratepayers”

  1. My last months bill was $101.46 (all in) for 667.7kWh of energy. That works out to 15.2 cents/kWh.
    In the past I have had values of over 16 cents/kWh
    Ed

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  2. This comment was sent to me: “Parker, I run a small XXXXX foundry in XXXXXXtown We continue to run during the day rather than at night when theoretically our rates should be lower. My understanding of the way the GA is calculated would lead me to believe that any advantage I would get from better TOU rate would be clawed back in the GA anyway.
    Last months bill was $27,303.53. Of that only $2,923.68 (10.7%) was electricity. The GA was $14,253.05 (52.2%). The rest was distribution, administration and taxes.
    In terms of rates…electricity $.0276/kWh…GA $.1390/kWh. The GA is now 5 TIMES the actual electricity cost, and we have no idea what it is going to be month to month. We now have to price our products with an electricity surcharge. The result is lost orders and lost jobs.”

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