Ontario Energy Board orders hydro firms to reconnect homes cut off for winter

Ontario's ban on disconnecting people's home electricity in the winter came into effect Thursday after the Legislature pushed through a bill Wednesday to force the hand of hydro distributors.

930 residential customers have had their power cut for being in arrears, regulator says

Ontario hydro providers can no longer cut off residential customers who are behind on their bills in the winter. (CBC)

Ontario's ban on disconnecting people's home electricity in the winter came into effect Thursday after the Legislature pushed through a bill Wednesday to force the hand of hydro distributors. 

The Liberals had requested that distributors voluntarily impose a ban and, while the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) said some had done so, not all had come in line. 

The new law allowed the OEB to amend the licences for all of the province's hydro distributors.

No residential customers can be disconnected until April 30 for non-payment or being in arrears, according to the board. Nor can any distributors install a load limiter for that same reason, the order states. 

No timeline for reconnections

But for those who have already had their power cut this winter, there's no immediate relief. 

The electricity regulator did not impose a timeline for reconnecting the 930 homes currently disconnected for being in arrears. There are also another 3,000 residential customers whose providers have placed a limit on much hydro they can use because they're behind on their bills.

"I expect that distributors will make reconnection and the removal of load-limiting devices a high priority, in keeping with the importance attributed to this remedial action," the energy board's vice president Brian Hewson wrote in his decision.

The energy regulator plans to launch a full review of the customer service rules around involuntarily disconnection. The probe will look at both gas and hydro providers, the board said.