Toronto, ON, Canada — (METERING.COM) — December 14, 2009 – New rules for submetering in Ontario are being proposed as part of a package of legislation aimed at providing additional protection for energy consumers.
The proposed Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2009, which was introduced last week, is intended to ensure that Ontarians have the information they need about electricity contracts and bills, as well as the comfort of knowing they can rely on fair business practices.
The rules on submetering – or suite metering, as the technology is referred in Ontario – are aimed at giving tenants in apartment buildings more control over their energy costs and allowing for greater energy conservation.
Specifically the rules propose that submetering should be mandatory in new residential buildings and voluntary in existing buildings. Consent should be required from sitting tenants and a framework for rent reduction should be established if a tenant agrees to submetering. Further, submetering providers should be subject to rules paralleling those for the local distribution companies (LDCs) concerning fee regulation, licensing, security deposits and disconnections, and landlords should be required to meet certain energy efficiency standards for appliances and suites.
Other elements of the proposed legislation are aimed at protecting consumers from hidden contract costs, excessive cancellation fees, “negative option” contract renewals, and other unfair industry practices. Further it is intended to provide greater fairness and transparency for consumers through rate comparisons, plain language contract disclosure, enhanced rights to cancel contracts and a new licensing and training regime, and to grant the Ontario Energy Board more authority to set policies on security deposits and disconnections.
“The (submetering) measures support the government’s goal of encouraging conservation,” said Ontario Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Gerry Phillips, at the introduction of the proposed Act. “(It) will allow each tenant to pay directly for their own energy use.”
Phillips added that this package of legislation is needed. “It’s fair and it is progressive. It protects consumers and it strengthens our energy market in Ontario.”
Many of the provisions resulting from the proposed legislation, should it pass, would involve consultation and be set at a later date by regulation.