A settlement and Ontario Energy Board decision has brought EPCOR's request to increase local hydro rates nearer to appearing on customers' bills.
Collingwood's electricity distributor started applying for a rate increase last year, initially requesting the new rate take effect at the start of 2023. However, EPCOR changed its application because of the agreement made with the town when EPCOR purchased Collus PowerStream in 2018.
The deal between the town and EPCOR stated EPCOR would implement a one per cent reduction in local electricity rates and would not change the rate for five years. The sale closed in October 2018, meaning any rate hike would have to wait for October 2023.
Now EPCOR is targeting a rate increase for October 2023.
The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has posted its decision addressing some of the remaining issues related to EPCOR's rate increase application, which supports an increase, but not at the level proposed by EPCOR.
"The bill impact resulting from [EPCOR's] application would have been 6.97 per cent for the average residential customer using 750 kWh/month and 6.14 per cent for the average general service customer using 2,000 kWh/month," states the OEB decision document. "As a result of this decision, bill impacts will be close to five per cent for both customer classes."
As part of the process to apply for rate increases, EPCOR has submitted financial documents and forecasts detailing capital and operations spending. The OEB argued that EPCOR's submission didn't support the rate increase applied for and therefore the OEB lowered the rate increase in its decision.
The application process is ongoing.
EPCOR was also asking for further rate adjustments to be effective Jan. 1, 2024, but the OEB pushed that to May 1, 2024, to spread out the two rate changes that would otherwise have occurred within three months of each other.
The original application from EPCOR was filed on May 27, 2022, with the OEB.
According to EPCOR's application documents, the fee increase is meant to support growth and maintenance of “a safe, reliable distribution system over a five-year period.”
“To improve reliability as a result of unplanned outages, we plan to incorporate smart devices to restore electricity service at a quicker, safer, and more cost-effective rate,” read a statement included in the application files. “In addition, we have proposed continued enhancements to the electricity grid to maintain pace with the growing use of electric vehicles, solar panels, and other distributed energy resources.”
The OEB decision, posted recently and dated June 15, 2023. The OEB will prepare a draft rate order, and EPCOR will be able to respond with its own comments before the end of July.
EPCOR distributes electricity to customers in Collingwood, Stayner and Creemore and to a portion of the Town of The Blue Mountains. Its Ontario website states they serve nearly 20,000 residential and commercial electricity customers in the area.