–What is a kWh?
A kWh (kilowatt-hour) is the unit of measure for electricity. A kWh is defined as the usage of 1000 watts for 1 hour. That means that for 1 kWh (about 11 cents) you can run a 100 watt light bulb for 10 hours.
+Who owns Oshawa Power?
Oshawa Power currently is an Ontario business Corporation wholly owned by The Corporation of the City of Oshawa.
+What does Oshawa Power do?
We design, build, own and maintain the electric line system that delivers electricity from substations (where we received it from the generation and transmission systems) to residential, commercial and industrial customers within the City of Oshawa.
+I want to access my account information on the internet. How do I sign up and is there a cost?
Go to www.opuc.on.ca and click on the My Account area. Follow the signup instructions. You will need a copy of your most recent bill in order to register. You will need your account number and will have to choose a password. After that, you can access your information and check your account balance, billing history and even enter your meter readings any time it is convenient. There is no charge of any kind for registering or using this service.
+Can I get my bill e-mailed to me?
Yes you can. To sign up go to our “e Billing” area. Make sure you have a copy of your most recent bill with your and just follow the instructions to register. Every month you will receive an email when your bill is ready. You can access it through the link in the email. You can go to the “e Billing” area at any time to access all of your bills. Please make sure that your Internet Browser is set to allow delivery of these emails.
+When I call customer service, why am I always asked for identifying information before we discuss my account?
Strict new federal privacy legislation is in effect to ensure that personal customer information is protected. When you call in you will be asked for two items of identifying information before we will discuss your account with you. Typically we ask for Drivers Licence Number, phone number and date of birth. If more than one person will be inquiring or doing business on an account, the account holder must give specific permission to allow this. You will be asked to identify the person or persons you authorize by name and birth date. If this information is not on our files, no information will be released.
+I have recently moved and was asked for a security deposit on my hydro service. I have not been asked for a deposit before, why now?
With the restructuring of the industry the legal right to lien an unpaid hydro bill against a property was lost. Deposits are now requested from all new customers. Deposits can be waived for customers who can supply a Deposit Waiver from another electrical or gas utility or who pass a credit check which our Customer Service Representatives can do for you. There is an administrative fee for this credit check.
If you are an existing customer and as long as you account remains in good standing you will not be asked to pay a security deposit. If you fail to maintain a good payment history we will require a deposit to continue service.
Interest is paid on deposits. Residential customers who maintain a good payment history for one year will have their deposits and accumulated interest credited to their regular hydro account. Commercial customers must maintain five years good payment history and our larger Industrial customers must maintain seven years.
If we still hold a deposit when an account is finalized, the deposit is applied to the final bill and any excess is returned.
For complete details of our deposit policy, please consult our conditions of service.
+How often am I billed?
All accounts in Oshawa are billed monthly at about the same time every month. For residential and small commercial accounts meters are read every two months and the bill is estimated in alternate months.
+Where can I pay my bill?
There are a number of choices:
Sign up for our Preauthorized Payment Plan so that the amount of the bill is paid automatically from your bank account every month.
Through an ATM, telephone, or the internet depending on the services offered by your banking institution.
Mail a cheque or money order into our office.
Pay at the teller at your local bank branch.
Place a cheque or money order into the Drop Box at our office. For security reasons, do not place cash in the Drop Box.
Pay in person at our office with a cheque, money order or debit card. We do not accept cash at our office.
+Can I pay in advance? I am going to be away or a couple of months.
Your can pay any amount at any time, assuming your account is up to date. We would advise, however, that you use our Pre authorized Payment Plan as a better alternative to ensure that your account does not fall into arrears while you are away.
+Can I pay my electric bill automatically?
Yes, sign up for our Pre authorized Payment Plan. This enables the electronic transfer of funds from your bank account to pay for your current bill. You will get a bill as you normally do and the money will be transferred on the due date of the bill.
+How do I submit my meter reading?
If the meter readers have left you a pink card we want you to read the meter and send us the reading. If you have access to the internet, you may sign up to access your personal information using the My Account button on most of the pages of this website. Once you have gone to your account area, you can use the “Submit Meter Reading” option from the menu on the left and follow the instructions. If you have a touch tone phone you may call 905-723-6980 and follow the instructions.
If you wish to submit a meter reading to avoid a scheduled estimated read please call our office at 905-723-4623 during office hours and a Customer Service Representative will be pleased to help you. Office hours are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm from Monday to Friday.
+Why am I getting requests to set an appointment to read my meter?
If you have an inside meter, or if your outside meter is inaccessible, we have probably been estimating your reading every month for some time. The metering division of our industry is regulated by Industry Canada. One of the regulations is that our staff must read the electric meter at least once per year. This is to ensure that your billing is accurate and the meter is working correctly.
+Why is it so important to pay my bills by the due date and not a few weeks later?
There are actually two reasons for this.
The first reason is simple economics. AS a corporation serving all of the residents of Oshawa, it is our responsibility to do the best we can for those residents, our customers. There is no government funding that flows into your public utility. If you do not pay for the electricity you use promptly, someone else has to. That means higher rates for everyone.
The second reason becomes the length of time involved. Because of the way the electricity market is structured, all of the information needed to calculate your bill is not available from the regulators until two weeks after your meter is read or estimated. Your due date is approximately 16 days after that. We must pay the regulator for the electricity you used at the time of delivery. That means that by the time your bill is due and we can collect for the payments we have already made, approximately 30 days have passed. It is essential that we collect that money in a timely manner so that we can keep our rates as low as possible.
+Why is my bill so much higher than my last bill or my neighbour’s bill?
There are many reasons for differences in billing.
For residential and small commercial accounts, we bill monthly and read the meter bi-monthly. During the “off” months we estimate usage based on your usage for the same time period the previous year. Differences in weather conditions can cause these estimates to be either too high or too low. Meters are not reset between readings, so in either case the reading we obtain the next month will correct the billing.
The other main reason for differences is that different households have different patterns of electricity use and patterns within the same household differ from time to time. Take an inventory of the electrical appliances in your home. Have you added or changed an appliance? Do you have extra people living with you? Have you had visitors for an extended period of time? Have you been using an appliance more, such as an air conditioner during a hot summer, a plug-in electric heater to supplement your furnace during a cold winter, a clothes dryer or a hot water tank for extra showers when more people are present. Have you added an appliance such as a computer or a beer fridge? All of these appliances will increase your electricity usage.
+How can I have the meter checked?
It is very rare for a meter to malfunction. Before they are installed electrical meters are tested for accuracy by Measurement Canada and they are periodically inspected by government-certified experts. If you do have concerns, however, and wish to have your meter checked you may contact Measurement Canada at 328 Sydney Street, Belleville, Ontario K8P 1A1 or call 613-969-3301 and request an inspection. If the meter is malfunctioning it will be replaced and there will be no charge to you.
+Is a Budget Payment Plan available to me?
Yes, a Budget Payment Plan is available on request. The plan is set to help you average out your electricity payments over the year. The budgets are recalculated periodically and you will be notified if a change is necessary. However, you must monitor your balance to ensure that you are not developing a large credit or debit balance. The amount can be changed at any time by calling our office.
+What uses the most electricity in my home?
Hot water tanks, air conditioners, and space heaters as well as other large appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, and dishwashers are the biggest contributors to your energy bill. Other large users which some customers may have are pool pumps, pool heaters and hot tubs.
+Where does my electricity come from?
The majority of electricity you use today is generated within Ontario. It is produced in a variety of ways: hydro-electric dams, nuclear fission plants, coal/oil (fossil fuel) fired plants, natural gas plant, a variety of other methods including wind, chemical, solar power and the burning of waste.
+What is meant by “The Grid”?
The “grid” makes up the physical assets that distribute electricity across the province on Ontario. They include the tower lines and transformer stations that deliver electricity to the borders of our city. A smaller “grid” that makes up the distribution system within Oshawa is then used to deliver electricity to your home or business.
+Why do my lights flicker?
Appliance that utilize a motor or compressor such as a vacuum cleaner, refrigerator, freezer, electric clothes dryer or washing machine can cause the lights to flicker for a brief instant when the appliance starts. This is perfectly normal.
However, if you notice that your lights are continually flickering throughout your entire house, or if you have power in only part of your house, please call our office during normal working hours and speak to a Customer Service Representative who may refer you to our Technical Services department.
+Why do I get 2 or 3 second stoppages of electricity?
Throughout the city, we have buildings called distribution stations. These are small buildings containing the equipment needed to regulate, monitor and control the supply of electricity through the area served by that station.
If something happens on a wire that disturbs the supply of electricity, the station senses it, much like fuses sense trouble in your home. During this disruption, you see either reduced electrical voltage (dim lights) or not electricity at all. The stations’ equipment will re-energize the line. If the problem continues, the station will then shut down the line and energize the section via an alternate route. As a result, the electricity is interrupted for a few seconds while this happens.
Falling tree branches are a good example of how this works. In a high wind or storm a branch may break off and land with one end on the ground and the other on the wire. This creates a “short circuit” which the station reacts to. Eventually the branch falls completely to the ground so that the line is clear. The station re energizes when that happens after a 2 or 3 second break in service.
+What causes short interruptions in my hydro?
Periodically customers can experience a brief 5-seconds power interruption to their electrical service. This power interruption is our distribution system protection scheme operating to protect the system from abnormal conditions, as a result of storms, equipment failures, vehicle accidents and wildlife contacts.
+What causes a power interruption to my house?
Periodically, planned interruptions are necessary to perform maintenance on our distribution system. These interruptions are intended to be of short duration and extremely infrequent. Unplanned interruptions are usually a direct result of major storm damage, major equipment failures and vehicle accidents. Under these conditions, our crews restore power in a safe efficient manner.
If you experience an unplanned power interruptions feel free to contact our office. We are particularly interested in hearing from customers who have heard or seen unusual activity in the area. Examples might be a loud bang, wires down, sparking cables, fire on hydro equipment or similar activity.
+Why did the government of Ontario change the way the Electricity Market operates in Ontario?
There were two main reasons for this:
The old Ontario Hydro had a debt of $38 billion which resulted from research, development and the cost of electricity supply. This debt was not being recovered from consumers under the former pricing structure. Ontario Hydro was split into several smaller companies with specific functions and this debt is now being paid down through the Debt Retirement Charge.
In the past, only Ontario Hydro was permitted to generate electricity for sale. The government believes that by allowing the private sector to generate electricity private companies will become interested in developing new and improved methods of producing electricity. Increasing the supply of reasonably priced electricity should eventually result in keeping the cost of electricity down.
+What is the Ontario Energy Board (OEB)?
The Ontario Energy Board regulates the province’s electricity and natural gas sectors in the public interest. It envisions a healthy and efficient energy sector with informed consumers, and works towards this vision through regulatory processes that are effective, fair and transparent. More information is available at http://www.oeb.gov.on.ca.
+What is the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO)?
The IESO balances the supply of and demand for electricity in Ontario and then directs its flow across the province’s transmission lines. More information is available at Here.
+Are there other sources of information about the market available?
Information about the electricity market is available from four main sources.
Ministry of Energy
Ontario Energy Board
Ontario Power Authority
The Independent Electricity System Operator.
+Who can I buy my electricity from?
As an electricity consumer you currently have a few choices:
You can buy your electricity from an Ontario Energy Board Licensed Electricity Retailer at a fixed price, for a fixed term. This contract covers only the electricity portion of your bill. The distribution charges, delivery charges and Debt Retirement Charge are not affected and will continue unchanged.
If you are a residential or small commercial customer you may purchase your electricity from your Local Distribution Company and pay the price currently in force. This price is set by the Ontario Energy Board.
If you are a large commercial or industrial customer you may opt to pay the Weighted Average Price. This price is set hourly by the Independent Electricity System Operator depending on market conditions and will differ on each bill.
+Do I have to sign a contract with an electricity retailer?
If you choose to remain with your Local Distribution Company you will be billed at the Regulated Price Plan rates set by the government. As of May 1, 2006 these rates are 5.8 cents per kWh for the first 600 kWh per 30 day period and 6.7 cents per kWh for consumption above that level. On November 1, 2006 the number of kWh allowed at the lower rate will increase to 1000 kWh for the winter months. At that time the Ontario Energy Board will also reassess the price for each tier based on current market pricing.
+Can a retail electricity contract be cancelled once it has been signed?
Once a contract has been signed, it may be cancelled providing the customer gives notice in writing within 10 days of signing.
Consumers should shop around and compare offers before deciding whether or not it is beneficial to contract with a licensed electricity retailer.
+Can I be transferred to a new supplier without my knowledge or approval?
The offer must clearly state whether your contract can be transferred to another electricity retailer. If your contract is transferred to another retailer, you must be notified of the new retailer’s name and contact details within 30 days of the transfer.
The Ontario energy Board has the authority to investigate retailers, cancel or suspend licenses, and shut down retailers who operate illegally.
+What happens if a retailer cannot fulfill their contractual obligation? Will my power be interrupted?
No, Oshawa Power will continue to supply electricity to your home or business, at its standard rate.