On April 22, 2010, the Ontario legislature passed Bill 235,
which when it comes into force will create a new Energy
Consumer Protection Act and amend the Electricity
Act, 1998. The principal aim of the legislation is to enhance
consumer protection and energy conservation through new rules for
gas marketers, electricity retailers, landlords, and condominium
The new legislation sets the framework for increasing the use of
smart meters by individual units in multi-residential buildings
(referred to as "suite metering"). According to the
Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, empirical data indicates
that energy consumption drops between 12%-22% when unit owners are
responsible for personal power bills. The legislation will enable
the government to provide guidance on suite metering, and also
addresses concerns related to suite meter companies and tenant
The most significant element of Bill 235 is that it provides for
rate regulation of suite metering providers by the Ontario Energy
Board. This provision was included in Bill 235 despite the
opposition of smart sub-metering providers, who argued before the
legislature that the industry is competitive and does not require
rate regulation. However, the legislation does provide the
government and the Board with the ability to rate regulate some
segments of the industry while leaving others subject to
competition. It remains to be seen how the government and the Board
will exercise that power.
In addition, the provisions of Bill 235 will empower the government
to regulate issues such as:
Specifications for suite meters
Designating when the installation and use of suite meters is
permitted or required
Creating energy efficiency requirements for units with
Information obligations for suite meter providers and landlords
to customers and tenants
Bill 235 will also add significant amendments to the
Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, including new rules for
landlords that intend to transition their units to suite metering.
This includes requirements to obtain a tenant's consent, to
provide a rent reduction, and to maintain a rental unit's
energy efficiency in terms of insulation and major
The other major goal of the legislation is to provide greater
consumer protection. According to the Minister, the Ontario Energy
Board receives on average between 100 and 150 consumer complaints
about the practices of gas marketers and electricity retailers
every week. The new Energy Consumer Protection Act created
by Bill 235 will provide greater protection to energy consumers and
enable the Board to "crack-down" on industry practices
that violate the new Act.
The Board will also have the power to regulate issues such as the
form of contracts and invoices, the availability of information in
other languages, contract renewals, extensions and amendments, and
enhanced rights for contract cancellation including a 10-day
cooling off period. The Board will also be able to make regulations
on security deposits and service cancellations.
Finally, the legislation will also empower the Board to make
regulations respecting the employees of energy providers. This
includes the power to issue directives on employee training,
identification requirements such as badges, and background checks
on employees. Employees may also be subject to new licensing and
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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