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  • Looking ahead at Ontario’s Energy Costs In The Future

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2014 is absolutely a watershed year for Ontario’s energy community, with changes in both natural gas and electricity rates causing concern among Ontario residents. Unfortunately for us, this is just the beginning in new sweeping changes to Ontario energy costs that will take place over the next few years. And some of the changes can be quite surprising.

In 2016, Debt Retirement Charges End

The number one complaint we all have about paying our energy bill is that charge that reads “Debt Retirement Charge” on our electricity bill. The charge is part of the Ontario government’s strategy to pay off the debt of the old Ontario Hydro. And in 2016, that charge will finally be stricken from the bills of Ontario consumers.

While more irritating and confusing of a charge than anything, the elimination of the debt retirement charge is expected to save Ontario homeowners about $70 per year on their bill, which can definitely add up over the long term.

However, the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit is Set to Go As Well

Changes to Ontario energy prices aren’t set to go down, despite elimination of this superfluous charge. There’s also plans among the Ministry of Energy to cut Ontario’s Clean Energy Benefit (OCEB) in 2016 as well. This bill has helped Ontario homeowners find a financial reason to cut down on their energy use, offering 10% off monthly bills for homes that go under 3,000 kilowatts in energy consumption.

The increased costs of electricity for homeowners in Ontario is set to increase by approximately $160 annually in response to this change, and it definitely has cast doubts among energy critics if this will help or hinder energy conservation efforts that have been successful in the province over the last few years.

Finally, New Income-Based Savings Are Being Introduced

Bob Chiarelli, the Ontario Minister of Energy, has also announced that part of the savings that would normally have been applied province-wide to lower energy costs will be replaced by Energy Support Programs for low-income households, offering energy discounts for homes which earn $40,000 or less per year.

The savings are estimated to provide lower earning families with up to $180 per year off their energy bills; which, compounded with the elimination of the DRC and the loss of the OCEB, will result in some families saving up to $90 overall on their bills, while higher earning households will pay significantly more than they pay currently.

If it seems like a roller coaster of news for homeowners, that’s because it is. Changing energy rates have been an intense source of debate and division among critics and residents alike. While lower-income families are set to benefit somewhat from these changes, questions arise if these changes are altogether fair for families on a whole.

Despite changing energy policy, Ontario Energy Group Consumer Watch advises that the most effective way to lower the price of your bills is to reduce the energy consumption of your house from month to month. Small but smart changes in your home routine and appliances can still achieve far better energy savings than the Ontario government can provide, and it can control what benefits they take away. And we don’t need a clean energy benefit to see the effects of that.

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