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Before Signing an Energy Contract: What You Should Consider

This tip sheet applies to contracts that are entered into on and after January 1, 2011.  For the rules that apply to contracts that are entered into before then, please view this tip sheet.



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  1. You have options. Your energy can be supplied by…

    (a) Your utility (prices set by the Ontario Energy Board), OR

    (b) An electricity retailer / gas marketer if you sign a contract. These are private companies.  They are not your utility and are not associated with the Ontario Energy Board, the government or any government program.

    It’s a competitive marketplace so take time to understand your options, rights and responsibilities.  Know who supplies your electricity or natural gas as well as how much you consume every month.

    You do not have to sign a contract – your energy service will continue without interruption. 

     
  2. Know who you are dealing with. An electricity retailer / gas marketer may show up at your door or contact you by mail to offer a contract to supply your energy, often at set prices, over a given term. You may decide to initiate contact with the company yourself. A salesperson who comes to your home or business must provide a business card that includes, among other things, their name and the name, address, phone number and Ontario Energy Board licence number of the company they represent.  They must also wear a valid identification badge that includes, among other things, their name, a recent photo, and the name of the company they represent.  View a list of electricity retailers and natural gas marketers who have notified us that they are offering contracts to residential and small business consumers.

     
  3. Be aware of when to show your bill. You are under no obligation to show a copy of your energy bill to a salesperson. However, if you do want to enter into a contract, the salesperson will need to see a copy of your bill to get your utility account number in order to process the contract. Treat the information on your energy bill with the same confidentiality you would for your credit card bill – only show it when you are ready to sign a contract.

     
  4. Know your rights. Take the time to understand your rights and responsibilities as an energy consumer.  An electricity retailer / gas marketer that offers you a contract must also provide you with an OEB-approved Disclosure Statement that contains important information about energy contracts. 

     
  5. Compare prices. There is no guarantee of savings if you sign a contract.  Take the time to review and compare prices:

    • If you buy electricity from your utility, the price is set by the OEB and can change every six months. This is known as the Regulated Price Plan.

       
    • If you buy natural gas from Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc., Union Gas Ltd. or Natural Resource Gas Limited, the prices are regulated by the OEB and can change every three months.   (If you buy natural gas from Kitchener Utilities or Utilities Kingston, the prices are set by your municipal council and can change from time to time.)

       
    • You can access historic electricity and natural gas rates charged by utilities, if set or regulated by the OEB, in the Electricity Prices and Natural Gas Rates sections of our website.

       
    • If you buy from an electricity retailer / gas marketer, the price is stated in your contract and is often fixed for a number of years. The OEB regulates the conduct of these companies but does not regulate their prices.

       
    • Remember that an energy contract covers only some parts of your bill.  You will still continue to pay other charges to your utility whether or not you sign a contract.

       
    • A contract for electricity or gas must come with a Price Comparison in a form approved by the OEB showing the contract price you are being offered and the price currently charged by your utility.

       
    • If your utility price is set or regulated by the OEB, you can also use the interactive online bill calculators for electricity and natural gas to do your own price comparisons and estimate your total monthly bill.


     
  6. Understanding the Global Adjustment (until January 1, 2011 known as the “Provincial Benefit”). It is principally your share of the difference between regulated and contract prices for electricity paid to certain generators and the market prices they would have received had they not been subject to regulation or contracts. It can be a charge or a credit.

    If you buy electricity from your utility, an estimate of this amount is already reflected in the electricity Regulated Price Plan prices set by the OEB, shown on the “Electricity” line of your bill. If you buy from an electricity retailer, you will have to pay the Global Adjustment in addition to the contract price offered by the retailer.  It will be shown as a separate item on your bill.

     
  7. Before agreeing to a contract, make sure you understand it. Whether you’re dealing with a salesperson  or considering an application/offer through the Internet or by mail, don’t rush into a decision. Know the key terms and conditions of the contract – the price offered, exit conditions, cancellation fees and renewal options are all important elements. Read the fine print and understand everything you are committing to.  Check with your utility to see if you will still be eligible for your utility’s equal payment plan if you enter into a contract with an electricity retailer.

     
  8. The final choice is yours. Don’t rush or feel pressured into making a decision. It’s up to you how you buy your electricity or natural gas.

     
  9. Keep a paper trail. Keep copies of all your correspondence with electricity retailers and gas marketers, including any Disclosure Statements, Price Comparisons and contracts.

 

  

 

 

 

Page last updated 2013-08-12

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