Three utilities in Ontario will run pilot projects to explore different pricing structures for electricity bills.

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) says the projects include testing alternatives to the current time-of-use pricing and giving customers smart thermostats.

Alectra Utilities, which serves the Hamilton and St. Catharines, Peel, Simcoe and York Regions, London Hydro and Oshawa PUC Networks Inc. were selected for the pilots.

The pilot projects include testing having a larger difference in price between off-peak and on-peak periods, which the OEB says will test how customers respond to a higher incentive to shift their electricity consumption to the lower-priced periods. 

Other pricing projects include having a lower-priced period from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. year round with higher mid- and on-peak rates; eliminating the mid-peak period for three months each in the summer and winter with a higher critical peak rate for when demand is forecast to be highest.

The utilities are also testing giving customers smart thermostats to help them control electricity usage.