Posted on May 11, 2021
February 24, 2020
Hon. Greg Rickford
Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines
77 Grenville Street, 7th floor
Dear Minister Rickford,
We are writing to you as two major condominium industry stakeholders, with our concerns arising from within the December 6th OEB bulletin relating to the Ontario Electricity Rebate and the resulting impact on condominiums in Ontario. A copy of this release can be found here - https://www.oeb.ca/sites/default/files/OEB-Bulletin-OER-20191206.pdf
CCI and ACMO bring a great deal of expertise in this area. CCI nationally is the voice of condominium and leads the Canadian condominium industry by providing education, awareness and expertise to our members. CCI, formed in 1982, consists of professionals and business partners serving the condominium sector in Canada, as well as the Boards and individual residents of Canadian condominiums. Our Toronto & Area Chapter is one of eight CCI Chapters in Ontario, delivering on our national mandate for the benefit of Ontario condominiums.
The Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario was formed in 1977 to represent the collective aims of all condominium managers. ACMO's Mission is to enhance the condominium management profession in Ontario by advancing the quality performance of Condominium property managers and management companies. ACMO provides training courses in Ontario Colleges and approved property management companies that are required learning for professional condominium managers leading to the recognized professional designation Registered Condominium Manager (RCM). The Association’s commitment to high standards of professional and business practices is further evidenced in the corporate certification ACMO 2000.
On November 1, 2019, the Ontario Electricity Rebate (OER) replaced the Fair Hydro Plan. The Fair Hydro Plan had two components - the very visible 8% HST rebate, and the less visible discounts that were being applied to keep electricity prices below market rates. The seemingly larger 31.8% OER largely offset the loss of the 8% HST rebate and the higher electricity prices on November 1st.
Both components of the Fair Hydro Plan applied to all condominium accounts – not so with the OER. A surprise bulletin released by the Ontario Energy board on December 6, 2019 clearly excluded some accounts. In multi-unit complexes where the distributor directly meters the individual units and the “common area” account has its own meter, the “common area” account was stated to not be eligible for the OER unless it has a demand of less than 50 kW or uses less than 250,000 kWh per year.
While there is a transition period for these “common area” accounts, this OEB bulletin is going to be very costly to some condominium owners. We expect that 30% of all condominium corporations will see the bills for their common areas rise. The impact is detailed as follows:
Given that in most high-rise condominiums approximately 25% of common expenses relate to utilities, this has a significant impact on costs and affordability of common expenses
The Condominium industry was surprised by the bulletin because we believe the bulletin is in conflict with the regulations. O. Reg 363/16 states that an account is eligible for the OER if the account “is solely in respect of a multi-unit complex” as long as the multi-unit complex contains at least two residential units as defined by the Condominium Act, 1998 and at least 50% of the units within the complex are residential units. The eligibility criteria are clearly aimed at providing relief to residential customers as it specifically excludes buildings such as hotels, prisons, and hospitals.
Unquestionably, and inexplicably in our view, the OEB bulletin of December 6th treats condominiums differently based on how they are metered, and whom they are metered by. We have to wonder, how the Ontario Energy Board justifies that the “common area” accounts for condominiums where the individual units are metered by a private firm are eligible but the “common area” accounts where the individual units are metered by a distributor are not eligible?
Further, we know that condominiums that are individually metered use less electricity over-all. Yet, some of those corporations are not eligible for the OER while “bulk metered”, where there is only one meter to account for all consumption in the suites and common area, are eligible. It would appear that those condominium corporations that took responsible steps to control energy consumption are being penalized for their efforts.
We stress that the condominium industry is mindful of energy consumption and our organizations encourage efforts to reduce electricity consumption in the market. Many condominium corporations have taken steps to reduce electricity consumption through LED lighting programs, educational programs regarding peak and off-peak usage, and electric charging stations for electric vehicles.
We respectfully submit that these efforts are not being appreciated by the new allocation of discounts and should be recognized. We would be pleased to have an in-person meeting to discuss the gravity and cost implications of this issue.
CCI Toronto President