font-size:-+
OEB logo

Retail Energy Contracts

New Consumer Protection Rules – January 1, 2017

On January 1, 2017, new rules came into effect regarding energy (electricity and/or natural gas) contracts and how energy retailers deal with residential and small business consumers. The rules include banning contracting with consumers at home.

Many of these new rules were recommended by the OEB when it reviewed how well the Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010 has worked since 2011 to protect the interests of residential and small business consumers in their dealings with energy retailers. Learn more about our 2015 Report to the Minister of Energy detailing the results of our review.

Four things to remember if you are approached to sign an energy contract:

  • As of January 1, 2017, no one can sign you up for an energy contract while they are at your home. They can leave information, but are not allowed to leave a contract

  • Always make sure you get a business card and look at the salesperson’s ID badge first

  • Don’t share personal information (i.e. your gas or electricity bill). An energy retailer only needs this information if you decide to enter into a contract

  • Energy retailers are not your utility, the government or the OEB. The OEB does not go door to door

 

Video: Know Who You're Dealing With

  

Information

Are you a residential or small business consumer and considering an energy contract? Our information can help you make the choice that's right for you.

  1. Before Signing an Energy Contract: What You Should Consider
  2. After Signing an Energy Contract: The Right to Change Your Mind
  3. Nearing the End of an Energy Contract: How Renewals and Extensions Work

 

  

What is the OEB's Relationship to Energy Companies?

In Ontario, companies that sell energy under contract have to follow laws and OEB rules that protect residential and small business consumers. Companies that sell electricity under contract are called “electricity retailers” and companies that sell natural gas under contract are called “gas marketers”. We refer to both of these as “energy retailers”.

As the regulator, the OEB’s job is to make sure energy retailers follow the rules. We carry out this consumer protection role in a number of ways. We:

  • license energy retailers, although we do not regulate the prices they offer
  • help consumers work through issues they’re having with energy retailers
  • investigate cases where an energy retailer is suspected of breaking the rules
  • take enforcement action in appropriate cases if we find that an energy retailer has broken the rules
  • provide consumers with information about their rights and responsibilities when entering into energy contracts

View a list of active licensed companies

 

Rules That Energy Retailers Must Follow

The Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010, contains many of the rules that energy retailers have to follow in their dealings with residential and small business consumers.

The OEB also has a number of important consumer protection rules that govern the conduct of energy retailers:

Some of the rules that protect consumers are:

  • Energy retailers can only enter into, verify, renew or extend a contract with the account holder (the person whose name appears on the utility bill for the home or business), their spouse or their authorized agent for the premises
  • Salespeople must wear, and clearly display, an identification badge and give the consumer a business card
  • All contract costs must be shown in the contract
  • Consumers have enhanced rights to cancel contracts, including a maximum on the cancellation fee the company can charge. In some cases there is no cancellation fee.
  • Consumers have a right to information that can help them better understand what is being offered. For new contracts, as well as renewals and extensions, the energy retailer must provide:

 

On January 1, 2017, the following new rules come into effect:

Door-to-door activities:

  • No one can sign you up for an energy contract while they are at your home.  
  • Energy retailers can still come to your home and give you information, but they cannot leave a copy of a contract with you.
  • There are limits on the times of the day, and the number of times, an energy retailer can come to your home. They are NOT allowed to come to your home:
    • On a day that is a legal holiday in Ontario.
    • On the weekday that counts as a legal holiday if the holiday fell on the weekend
    • On weekends, before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
    • On weekdays, before 10 a.m. or after 8 p.m.
    • More than 4 times in a 12-month period unless you invite them to do so.
    • If you have posted a sign at your home discouraging door-to-door marketing/sales.
    • In addition, if an energy retailer has come to your home uninvited, they cannot contact you again in any way more than once in the next 30 days unless:
      • You’ve asked them to, or
      • You have signed a contract and need you to confirm that you want to continue with it.

Incentives:

  • An energy retailer cannot provide a gift card, gift certificate or other financial incentive, or any equipment, product or service, at your home to be redeemed after entering into, amending or renewing a contract. If you are offered any of these outside of your home, the energy retailer cannot ask you to return or repay it, even if you enter into a contract and then cancel it.

Contact renewals and extensions

  • An energy contract cannot be automatically renewed or extended.

Cancellation

  • If you enter into or renew a contract, you can cancel it within 30 days of getting your second bill under the contract. You have to pay those bills, but you won’t have to pay a cancellation fee.
  • If you cancel a contract after that, you may have to pay a cancellation fee. For most residential consumers, the cancellation fee is no more than $50 whether the contract is for gas or electricity or both.

Confirming a contract

  • No matter how you entered into a contract – including over the internet – you later have to confirm that you still want the contract. Otherwise, the contract will become invalid. You will be contacted 10-45 days after you’ve entered into the energy contract to verify that you wish to continue with it. If you do not want to continue with the contract, you can say so and you will not have to pay a cancellation fee.  

Plain language contracts

  • All energy contracts have to be in plain language, and must include standard contract terms and conditions that have been written by the OEB.

 

Enforcement

If we determine that an energy retailer has broken a law or rule, we can take enforcement action. We can impose a penalty or fine of up to $1 million per day. Or we can suspend or take away an energy retailer’s licence. 

The steps for taking enforcement action are set out in legislation, and the energy retailer is given a chance to present its side of the story before we make our final decision.

 

More Information

Before Signing a Contract After Signing a Contract Nearing the End of a Contract: Renewals List of Active Retailers and Marketers
 

Use the OEB online bill calculator to get a monthly bill estimate for electricity or natural gas, whether you’ve signed an energy contract or buy directly from your local utility. Note: The bill calculator cannot be used to compare natural gas prices for Kitchener Utilities and Utilities Kingston as their rates are not regulated by the OEB.

Your Electricity Utility - Bill Calculator Your Natural Gas Utility - Bill Calculator
 

 

 

 

Page last updated 2017-02-15

Bookmark and Share

Ontario Coat of ArmsONTARIO ENERGY BOARD
P.O. Box 2319
2300 Yonge Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M4P 1E4

1-877-632-2727 (toll-free within Ontario)
416-314-2455 (within Greater Toronto Area or from outside Canada)
Fax: 416-440-7656

Business hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Submit a Question or Complaint