Toronto, ON, Canada — (METERING.COM) — January 4, 2011 – New electricity customer service rules, including changes around bill issuance and payment, disconnections, and security deposits, introduced by the Ontario Energy Board have become effective in Ontario from January 1, 2011.
The changes, which form amendments to the Distribution System Code (DSC), Retail Settlement Code (RSC) and Standard Supply Service Code (SSSC) to enhance customer service rules and create province-wide standards for electricity utilities across the province, include:
- Clarifying what the minimum payment period is, when a bill is deemed paid, and when late payment charges can be applied
- Clarifying notification processes distributors must use prior to disconnecting a customer
- Implementing standards for disconnection procedures, and
- Clarifying standards around how security deposits are calculated and how security deposits are to be used.
To date practices on bill issuance and payment have varied from utility to utility. Under the new rules the minimum payment period before a late payment penalty can be applied will be at least 16 days from the date the bill was issued to the customer.
Regarding disconnections for non-payment, customers must receive 10 days notice before being disconnected, while those for whom disconnection will pose a significant health risk must receive 60 days notice. Distributors also must make a reasonable effort to contact the customer one final time, in person or by telephone, at least 48 hours before the scheduled disconnection date, or if unable to do so, then at the door.
The new rules also extend the security deposit payment period from four to six months, with the maximum deposit based on the customer’s average monthly consumption over a 12-month, consecutive period in the last two years. There also must be a review of the security deposit during the year after the first anniversary of the first installment payment.
The amendments flowed from a consultation process concerning how electricity distributors provide service to their customers. Other new rules on equal monthly payment plans, over and under-billing adjustments, and the opening and closing of accounts with distributors, come into effect on April 1, 2011.