Energy retailer rules under review
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Oct 17, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Energy retailer rules under review

Consumers have chance to weigh in on regulations

OurWindsor.Ca

Ontario’s energy regulator wants to know whether you’d like to see changes in the rules governing energy retailers.

But give yourself a little time if you want to state your views.

The Ontario Energy Board has developed a 14-page “workbook” for consumers to fill in if they want to be heard.

The workbook will remain accessible on the energy board website until Nov. 11.

The Energy Consumer Protection Act, which came into effect in 2011, was passed to curb aggressive energy retailers selling long-term, fixed-price contracts for natural gas and electricity.

Abuses were commonplace. Some salespeople misled customers to think they were still dealing with their local utility companies. Others gave consumers poor information about energy prices and the terms of the contracts they were signing.

Some simply signed up customers without their consent by forging signatures.

The new rules were designed to curb the abuses, requiring energy retailers to give customers price comparison information and to make follow-up calls to verify that customers had agreed to the contracts reported by the sales staff.

Complaints have dropped, though they have not vanished, since the act came into force.

The energy board says it received 6,616 complaints about retailers and marketers in 2010-2011; that number dropped to 2,275 in 2013-2014. It’s now reviewing whether rules need changing.

About 10 per cent of residential and small-business natural gas customers currently have contracts with retailers. For electricity, that figure is 6 per cent.

The energy board’s Karim Karsan said in an interview that door-to-door contract sellers still generate the most complaints about retail contracts.

In addition to the workbook, the energy board will gather consumer views through telephone surveys and focus groups, Karsan said. It will also review the complaint data gathered over the years.

The energy board will report to the minister of energy on any recommended rule changes by the end of the year.

Toronto Star

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