Q: What is Time-of-Use (TOU) billing?

A: In a move mandated by the Province of Ontario and the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), every Burlington Hydro residential and small commercial customer will have been switched to Time-of-Use (TOU) pricing by September 2012. Burlington’s roll out of TOU began in January 2012. Like everyone across Ontario, Burlington Hydro Inc. customers are switching to TOU electricity prices as part of the Ontario government’s plan to create a culture of energy conservation in the province.

TOU prices take into account when, as well as how much, electricity is used by each of us. The switch to this new approach to electricity prices means all Burlington households and most institutions and businesses will be charged different rates, depending on the day of week, time of day and the season.

TOU charges for on-, mid-, and off-peak periods are listed under the Electricity Line on your electricity bill. This charge represents approximately 48% of the total bill, and although it is collected by Burlington Hydro, it is forwarded to generators to cover the cost of generating the electricity we use.

Q: Why are there different prices and time periods?

A: At the request of the Ontario’s Minister of Energy, the Ontario Energy Board developed an electricity price plan to provide stable and predictable electricity pricing, which ensures the price consumers, like you, pay for electricity better reflects the actual
cost of producing the electricity.

Electricity prices charged per “kilowatt-hour” change throughout the day, like long distance telephone rates, to better reflect the changes in the costs to produce electricity at different times of the day.

Shifting electricity use will mean the higher cost electricity generators will be needed less. Some of those higher cost generators also create more air pollution, so relying on them less can also help benefit the environment. In the long run, lower peak demand will mean the province needs to build less new generation to serve that peak, lowering costs for all Ontarians.

Q. What are the holidays for time-of-use prices?

2012 Holiday Schedule for Time-of-Use Prices (Regulated Price Plan)

Electricity used on weekends and holidays is charged the off-peak during both the Winter and Summer periods. Here are the
holidays in 2012 when off-peak prices are in effect:

Monday, January 2 - New Year’s Day

Monday, February 20 - Family Day

Friday, April 6 - Good Friday

Monday, May 21 - Victoria Day

Monday, July 2 - Canada Day

Monday, August 6 - Civic Holiday

Monday, September 3 - Labour Day

Monday, October 8 - Thanksgiving Day

Tuesday, December 25 - Christmas Day

Wednesday, December 26 - Boxing Day

Q. What is the benefit of having time-of-use pricing?

A. Currently, there’s little personal benefit for you to manage your electricity use throughout the day. Smart meter pricing sets
a higher price at peak periods when prices are highest in the wholesale market. This encourages you to reduce or shift your use to periods of lower demand (e.g. weekends or later in the evening) and away from times when electricity is most expensive.

You won’t be able to shift all of your electricity use away from peak demand periods, but the more you are able to shift, the more you can manage your costs and contribute to lower overall peak electricity prices for everyone.

Q: When will TOU billing begin for customers of Burlington Hydro?

A: Beginning January, 2012, customers are being migrated to TOU billing in accordance with Burlington Hydro billing cycles. very Burlington Hydro residential customer and small commercial customer will have been switched to TOU pricing by September 2012. Customers were notified of their specific TOU start date in billing inserts issued in the Fall of 2011. This phased-in approach to the billing ensures customers will not be billed based on both the old and new pricing on the same electricity bill to avoid confusion.

Q: Why was there a delay to the start-date of TOU in Burlington?

A: Although the planned start date for the Time-of-Use phase-in was July 4th, 2011, Burlington Hydro received Ontario Energy Board approval for a delay to allow for fine-tuning of the data collection system.

Q: How can I prepare for Time-of-Use?

A: To prepare for Time-of-Use, Burlington Hydro customers can look for opportunities to shift energy intensive activities to off-peak hours and to conserve when possible. Installing a programmable thermostat and setting it to reduce consumption during on-peak periods, always running the dishwasher with full loads and avoiding the heat-dry settings and unplugging electronics when not in use, are only a few tips to help shift and conserve.

Q: Where I can learn more about conservation programs?

A: Burlington Hydro will continue to help its customers manage their electricity use and costs by offering a range of conservation programs.

Q: I am with a fixed-term contract with an electricity retailer. Will I be affected by Time-of-Use billing?

A: Time-of-Use prices do not apply for electricity customers on a fixed-term contract with an electricity retailer.

Q: How do I read my Smart Meter?

A: Your Smart Meter displays the following pieces of information in sequence:

  • a segment test to ensure the system is functioning
  • your accumulated kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption in a six-digit format
  • a network address number for utility use.

Q: Is my usage information secure and will it remain confidential?

A: Yes. Ontario's electricity distribution companies are required, by law, to ensure that the SMART METERS and communication networks that are put into place 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.