OEB logo

History of the OEB



2010 marked the 50th anniversary of the Ontario Energy Board.



The Natural Gas and Oil Wells Act marked the Province’s early concern for the proper management of its energy resources – a concern that evolved through the Natural Gas Act of 1918, the Natural Gas Conservation Act of 1921 and the Ontario Fuel Board Act of 1954.


The Ontario Energy Board Act, 1960 created the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) as a successor to the Ontario Fuel Board. The OEB was authorized to set just and reasonable rates for the sale and storage of gas and to make orders granting leave to construct pipelines for the transmission of oil or gas to expropriate land for oil or gas pipes.

The Ontario Energy Act, 1964 clarified certain powers of the OEB and strengthened the sections dealing with gas storage. An amendment to this Act in  1965 set out the ground rules for the OEB in determining the rate base of gas utilities and giving the OEB power to make regulations prescribing a uniform system of accounts for gas companies.

On June 7, 1973, the Premier announced the establishment of the Ministry of Energy which would include the OEB. Further amendments were made to the Ontario Energy Board Act which included provisions for the appointment of additional board members and making the OEB responsible for annual reviews of rate and rate-related matters of Ontario Hydro.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the oil crisis developed in the Middle East, causing natural gas prices to soar. Ontario Hydro turned to nuclear generation and the public became conservation conscious. During that time, the Board decided on hundreds of natural gas applications and conducted major reviews of Ontario Hydro rates.


The mandate of the Board changed significantly with the passage of the Energy Competition Act, 1998 (ECA)  The ultimate goal of the ECA was the creation of a competitive market in the electricity and natural gas industries.

To achieve the goal of creating a competitive market in the electricity industry, the former Ontario Hydro monopoly was replaced by several business entities including two distinct commercial companies, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Hydro One Inc., and one Crown corporation, the Independent Electricity Market Operator, now known as the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). OPG has taken responsibility for the generation of electricity while Hydro One owns and maintains transmission and distribution wires. The IESO manages the province's electricity system and operates the wholesale electricity market.  The OEB had varying degrees of regulatory authority over all three corporations as well as the province’s municipal electric utilities.

The OEB became responsible for regulating local distribution companies and  for ensuring that the distribution companies fulfill their obligations to connect and serve their customers. The OEB also became responsible for licensing certain participants in the market.  The OEB regulated all market participants in the province’s natural gas and electricity industries and it provided advice on energy matters referred to it by the Minister of Energy and/or the Minister of Natural Resources.


On May 1, 2002, Ontario’s new electricity market opened. The new market was the culmination of over five years of work by the electricity industry, government, the OEB, the IESO and many other market participants. The generation of electricity became a competitive activity, with electricity bought and sold on the new spot market at competitive prices. The IESO successfully began operating the wholesale market.

Over the summer of 2002, record-high temperatures drove up the demand for electricity as well as the market price, which resulted in considerable consumer concern. In response, the government introduced the Electricity Pricing, Conservation and Supply  Act, 2002. This legislation, which received Royal Assent on December 9, 2002, capped the price of electricity at 4.3 cents per kilowatt hour for residential, small-business and other designated low-volume consumers, effective May 1, 2002 to May 1, 2006. This legislation also provided refunds, retroactive to May 1, 2002, to compensate those consumers for any costs in excess of the 4.3-cent cap.

All transmission and distribution rates were frozen at existing levels until at least May 1, 2006. Utilities were required to receive written approval from the Minister of Energy before any application for rate changes could be submitted to the OEB. This legislation also deemed any interim rate order to be final. In addition, the new legislation modified the OEB’s objectives in the areas of energy efficiency and conservation with respect to both natural gas and electricity from “facilitating” to “promoting.”


Proclaimed on August 1, 2003, the Ontario Energy Board Consumer Protection and Governance Act, 2003, established the new OEB as a self-financing crown corporation and gave the OEB the opportunity to do its work more efficiently and effectively. In particular, the legislation provided for a management committee to manage the activities of the OEB. The legislation further enhanced the OEB's role in protecting and educating energy consumers.

In December 2003, the government introduced the Ontario Energy Board Amendment Act (Electricity Pricing), 2003, which put in place a new interim electricity pricing structure, replacing the 4.3 cent per kilowatt hour (kWh) price cap as of April 1, 2004. Under the interim structure, residential, low-volume and other designated consumers paid 4.7 cents per kWh for the first 750 kWh consumed per month, and 5.5 cents per kWh for consumption above that level.

The Act called on the OEB to develop a new electricity pricing mechanism. It also charged the OEB with the responsibility to protect and renew Ontario’s electricity grid by ensuring reasonable charges for the delivery of electricity.

The legislation also required the OEB to allow local distribution companies to recoup costs (called “regulatory assets”), the recovery of which had been put on hold in 2002 by the Electricity Pricing, Conservation and Supply Act, 2002. These recoveries would be spread over a four-year period so that they would have only a modest impact on the final price to consumers.


In June 2004, the Government of Ontario proposed a restructuring of the province’s electricity sector in order to encourage new electricity supply, energy conservation and stable prices at a level reflecting the true cost of electricity.

The Electricity Restructuring Act, 2004, received Royal Assent on December 9, 2004. The new legislation amended the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998, and the Electricity Act, 1998.

The OEB became responsible for developing a transparent mechanism for establishing electricity commodity prices for eligible consumers who have not signed contracts with electricity retailers. The Regulated Price Plan, which took effect May 1, 2005, replaced the interim two-tier pricing of 4.7 cents per kilowatt hour (¢/kWh) and 5.5 ¢/kWh hour that had been in place since April 2004.

The OEB also assumed responsibility for the Market Surveillance Panel, previously the responsibility of the IESO.

A new agency, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), was established to ensure an adequate, reliable and secure supply of electricity in Ontario for the medium and long term. The OEB was given the duty of approving the OPA's fees and its integrated power system plan and procurement process. The OEB is also responsible for licensing the OPA.


The Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 received Royal Assent on May 14, 2009.  Among other things, the legislation amended the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 and the Electricity Act, 1998.  It established important responsibilities for the OEB and other entities in achieving the objectives of conservation, promotion of renewable generation, and technological innovation through the smart grid.

The OEB's three new objectives are:

  1. The promotion of renewable energy, including the timely connection of renewable energy projects to transmission and distribution systems;
  2. The promotion of conservation and demand management; and
  3. The facilitation of the implementation of a smart grid.

The OEB has an important role to play in ensuring the government’s objectives in the legislation are achieved. That includes ensuring that electricity distributors meet the requirements for renewable generation connection, smart grid implementation and conservation and demand management. 


In 2010, Ontario passed the Energy Consumer Protection Act, that would ensure 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 new rules come into effect in January 2011.

Read more about the ECPA on our website.



Page last updated 2015-08-10

Bookmark and Share
mobile versiondesktop version