Ontario Electricity Pilot Program for Higher Peak Rates

Ontario Energy Minister Glen Thibeault unveiled a new pilot project promoting a variety of pricing structures for some Ontario residents. The plans were unveiled on August 29th and offered three pilots under three utility companies. The main goal of these projects seems to be testing variations of Ontario’s current time-of-use system. Some of the options include lower off-peak rates, higher peak rates, as well as notifying customers a day in advance of when peak rates will be charged. These plans are promoted by the Energy Minister as “…turning to the need to give customers greater flexibility and choice in their electricity pricing plans” suggesting that residents could choose which plan would benefit their consumption pattern the most. The pilot program offered by Alectra Utilities will be available to 10,000 customers who volunteer with the incentive of savings of up to $500.
These pilot programs are a great way to reduce the peak load demand from residents and attempt to flatten the peaks in Ontario. Something to watch out for though is any expansions of this pricing structure to industry where shifting demand to off-peak hours is not as easy as in residential homes, and peak prices are already high. Also, many of Ontario’s current electricity incentives for industry revolve around peak shifting and demand response. With peaks being flattened by other incentives, predicting peaks will become harder and potentially less rewarding for participating businesses.