A common saying during momentous and uncertain times is “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” The Ontario government, along with the waterpower industry, has been demonstrating this during the Covid 19 crisis. While it’s difficult to keep up with the amount of announcements over the last few weeks, this article summarizes some of changes to the electricity sector, while recognizing OWA members who are going above and beyond.
On March 19th, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) announced that the provincial winter disconnection ban for residential customers, scheduled to end on April 30, 2020, is to be extended by an additional three months. The OEB is also extending the disconnection ban to include all other low-volume customers, such as small business customers for reason of non-payment until July 31, 2020.
On March 24th, the provincial government announced a temporary 45-day emergency relief to support Ontarians impacted by the global COVID-19 outbreak. Households, farms and small business who pay Time-of-Use electricity rates will pay the lowest rate or off-peak rate (10.1 cents/kWh) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
On March 25th, the Canadian Government issued a call out for assistance for specific services and products from suppliers in order to assist with combating COVID-19. Products needed included a list of personal protective equipment. A number of OWA members who have the capacity are stepping up to support hospitals and communities.
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) donated 500,000 surgical masks, 75,000 N95 masks and 17,500 Tyvek suits to the Province of Ontario to address the pressing need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peterborough Utilities packed up masks, protective suits, sanitizer, cleaner, wipes and gloves to donate to the Peterborough Regional Health Center.
Hospitals in Ottawa and across eastern Ontario have received masks from Ottawa companies in order to help, including Hydro Ottawa who donated 12,000 surgical masks to the Ottawa Hospital.
On March 30th, Lakeland Energy announced the purchase all of CORE Broadband’s customers and operations including Interactive North. CORE operates more than 100 wireless towers across Muskoka and Southern Parry Sound. This sale is proceeding so high-speed improvements can be made as soon as practical.
In order to support the industry, OWA has launched the “Rapid Response Centre”. This is a secure member only discussion board dedicated to getting our members the specific information they need. This forum will also help the OWA to track and determine issues for which there is wider interest that may benefit from collective conversation and action.
With 25% of electricity produced by waterpower in the province, operators are ensuring that the lights are kept on. OWA would like to thank all members for their dedication, services and commitment to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.