Ontario group demystifies electricity deregulation on Web site

CBC News Online
November 19, 2001

TORONTO – An Ontario group has come up with a Web site to help consumers consider the choices when the electricity market is deregulated next spring.

Faced with door-to-door sign up campaigns, advertising and a barrage of information, consumers must decide which supplier they want to go with.

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance created the Web site to clear up some of the confusion.

The site allows consumers to punch in their kilowatt usage. It will figure out how much they’ll pay if they stay with their current electricity supplier or, if they switch to a private supplier.

The site also indicates how clean the sources of electricity are that the supplier uses.

The site teaches consumers how to read their new bills which will be divided into four parts: a fixed customer charge; a distribution charge; a generation or electricity charge; other special charges.

Only the generation (electricity) charge will vary from supplier to supplier, so it is important to compare only this cost when considering suppliers — ask the supplier for a full breakdown of their charges.

The site also has a short glossary of terms such as “default supplier,” “kilowatt-hour,” and “emission credits.”

The site is focused on green energy and getting consumers to make choices for the environment’s sake, so its list of “questions to ask” is skewed towards alternative sources of energy.

Consumer groups say they are wary of deregulation. In Alberta, prices spiked as high as 300 per cent when the province decided to go ahead with deregulation five years ago.

Tom Adams of Energy Probe predicts prices in Ontario will go up eight to 20 per cent after deregulation.

 

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