Ontario's Energy Sector
The Government of Ontario, through the Ministry of Energy, sets the overall policy for the energy sector. It does that mainly through laws and regulations.
The Ontario Energy Board oversees the energy sector. It ensures companies in the natural gas and electricity sectors in Ontario follow the rules. Our objective, as a neutral government agency, is to promote a viable and efficient energy sector that provides consumers with reliable energy services at a reasonable cost.
The Electricity Sector
A number of different companies and agencies play a part in ensuring that Ontario’s homes and businesses have a reliable supply of electricity when they need it. They are:
Generators produce the power we use. They include nuclear, hydro, natural gas, wind and solar. The largest generator is Ontario Power Generation – a provincially-owned company. This is how the generation mix looks in Ontario today:
Once power is made, it travels across Ontario on high-voltage transmission lines. Those lines, which are mostly owned and operated by Hydro One, take power from the generator to the doorsteps of local utilities. There, it is put through transformers that convert it to low-voltage power. It is then sent out on distribution lines.
Local utilities (also known as distributors), own and operate the low-voltage lines that deliver power to your home or business. They are also responsible for billing you and delivering unique local conservation programs. For more information about your utility click here, select it from the drop down menu and click on “Contact Your Utility” tab.
The vast majority (about 90%) of Ontarians choose to buy power from their local utility. You can choose from whom you buy electricity. If you do nothing, you automatically buy electricity from your local utility. The price you pay for the electricity you use is set by the Board. If you choose to buy electricity from a private company that sells electricity under contract (called an electricity retailer) you pay the price you and the retailer agreed to in the contract. There are a number of electricity retailers offering electricity contracts to consumers across Ontario. Here’s a list of electricity retailers that are active in Ontario.
No matter who you buy your electricity from, it is delivered to your home or business through the same wires.
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO)
The IESO balances the supply of and demand for electricity in Ontario. It directs the flow of electricity across the province's transmission lines, connecting generators that produce power, transmitters that send it across the province, local utilities that deliver it to people’s homes and businesses, and industrial companies that use it in large quantities. Visit the IESO’s website at www.ieso.ca.
The Ontario Power Authority (OPA)
The OPA is the agency that plans the power system and makes sure Ontario has enough electricity over the long term. It also coordinates conservation efforts across the province. Visit the OPA’s website at www.powerauthority.on.ca.
The Natural Gas Sector
The natural gas sector is also made up of several different companies that each play a part in making sure homes and businesses have access to the natural gas they need, whenever they need it.
Producers are companies that look for, produce or process natural gas. Most of the natural gas used in Ontario comes from Alberta.
Transmitters and Storage Companies
A handful of companies are involved in natural gas storage and transmission. Natural gas is stored underground in facilities that connect to the pipeline system. Natural gas distributors often own storage facilities. Storage facilities help reduce the cost of natural gas by allowing companies to buy gas when prices are low and storing it for use later. Natural gas flows to Ontario from Western Canada and the United States through large high pressure transmission pipelines like the Trans Canada Pipeline which connect to the smaller low pressure pipelines owned by local utilities.
Distributors, also known as utilities, own the pipes and equipment that deliver natural gas to your home or business. There are only a handful of major gas utilities in Ontario. We regulate the rates of three: Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc., Union Gas Limited and Natural Resource Gas Limited. For more information about your utility click here, select it from the drop down menu and click on the “Contact Your Utility” tab.
Natural Gas Marketers
Most Ontarians choose to buy natural gas from their distributor or utility. You can choose from whom you buy natural gas. If you do nothing, you automatically buy natural gas from your utility. The price you pay for the natural gas you use is approved by the Board. The Board does not allow utilities to profit from the price at which they sell natural gas to their customers. If you choose to buy your natural gas from a private company that sells natural gas under contract (called a natural gas marketer) you pay the price you and the natural gas marketer agreed to in the contract. There are a number of natural gas marketers offering natural gas contracts to consumers across Ontario. Here’s a list of natural gas marketers that are active in Ontario.
No matter who you buy your natural gas from, it is always delivered to you by your utility.
Page last updated 2013-07-18