Time-of-use pricing will be suspended for 45 days
By Diego Flammini
The Ontario government is temporarily changing hydro pricing in the province to help residents manage during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 24, Premier Ford announced that time-of-use (TOU) hydro pricing will be suspended for 45 days. Ontarians will be charged at the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents per kilowatt hour until May 8.
Ontario farms could see savings of $300 per month, the provincial government estimates. Small businesses could save $150 per month and residential customers could save around $20 per month.
“By adopting a fixed, 24-7 off-peak rate, we are making things a little easier during these difficult times and putting more money in people’s pockets for other important priorities and necessities,” Premier Ford said in a statement.
Ontario producers welcome the temporary hydro rate relief.
Farms use hydro heavily to dry grain or keep barns warm, so any cost savings is appreciated, said Mark Reusser, vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
“One thing that makes TOU pricing useful is if you’re able to change behaviour,” he told Farms.com. “Unfortunately, most agriculture operations don’t have that opportunity. On my operation I grow turkeys in barns and when the sun comes out and it gets hot, I have to turn on fans – I have no choice. I probably pay thousands (of dollars) more per year because I have to use hydro during the peak periods of the day.”
Grain producers also have no choice when they need to use hydro, Reusser said.
Reusser estimates his farm could save between $2,000 and $3,000 annually if the government eliminated TOU pricing altogether.
Removing TOU pricing from the hydro equation after the coronavirus pandemic may be something the OFA pursues, Reusser said.
“We would encourage the government to make this a permanent change,” he said. “Higher rates during peak periods are an extra cost to farmers. We would love to use hydro at the off-peak rates all the time.”
As of the afternoon of March 30, Ontario has 1,706 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 431 resolved cases and 23 deaths.