On May 16, 2017, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) published its “Consumer Charter.” As explained by the OEB, the Consumer Charter sets out the key rights held by Ontario energy consumers in an “easily understood format.” The consumer rights addressed in the Consumer Charter are:
- Safe and reliable service;
- Accurate and timely bills;
- Fair security deposit policies;
- Fair disconnection and reconnection practices;
- Fair, reasonable and timely complaint resolution processes; and
- Personal privacy.
On the same date as the Consumer Charter was published, the OEB also announced the next steps in its review of Customer Service Rules for Electricity and Gas consumers. This initiative (discussed in an earlier post) was first promised at the time that the OEB implemented rules to ban local electricity distribution companies (LDCs) from disconnecting residential consumers during the past winter season.
According to the OEB’s May 16, 2017 letter to Electricity and Gas Utilities and Unit Sub-Metering Providers, the review of customer service rules will proceed in two phases. Phase I will involve a review of existing disconnection and reconnection policies as well as billing and payment rules, security deposits and arrears management programs. Phase II will review customer service rules related to management of customer accounts and correction of billing errors. Phase II will also look at whether changes are required to the current Reporting & Record Keeping Requirements (RRRs) and whether those should be expanded to also cover Unit Sub-Metering Providers.
The OEB is now planning to gather information from interested parties, including consumers and utilities. This will be done through engagement with focus groups and the OEB’s “Consumer Panel,” and through surveys to be provided to utilities and others. The OEB expects that Phase I of its review will be completed by Fall 2017 (in advance of the next winter season).