The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has moved swiftly to ban disconnection of residential electricity consumers for the period through April 30, as a first step towards implementing the Protecting Vulnerable Energy Consumers Act, 2017, which became law on February 22, 2017.
In a letter dated February 23, 2017, the OEB announced that it has issued a Decision and Order amending the licences of all Ontario electricity distributors to ban the disconnection of residential consumers for the period through April 30, 2017, and to require that disconnected homes be reconnected as soon as possible at no charge.
The Decision and Order also requires the prompt removal of load limiting devices that have been installed on residential premises as an alternative to disconnection, and a prohibition on the installation of new devices during the disconnection ban.
The Act strengthens the OEB’s authority in relation to disconnections by electricity and natural gas distributors. It does so by expressly recognizing that the OEB’s rules can ban the disconnection of low-volume (residential and small business) consumers during certain periods, and by making it clear that the OEB’s rules prevail over the statutory right to disconnect that electricity and natural gas distributors have under the Electricity Act, 1998 and the Public Utilities Act, respectively.
The OEB intends to launch a comprehensive review of customer service rules for both electricity and natural gas in the near future. More enduring rules relating to disconnection, among other matters, will be developed through this review.
Manning Environmental Law is a Canadian law firm based in Toronto, Ontario. Our practice is focussed on environmental law, energy law and aboriginal law.
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