Making the Best Choice for You about Electricity or Natural Gas



    TORONTO, Feb. 1 /CNW/ - The Ontario Energy Board reminds consumers that
it is important they know their rights and responsibilities when reviewing
electricity supply options - whether from a local utility or from an energy
retailer or marketer.
    That includes knowing what to expect when approached by sales agents at
home as well as understanding the steps and obligations involved in signing
and reaffirming an energy contract.
    Some tips for consumers:

    
    -  Understand your current energy situation.

       That means first knowing if your electricity or natural gas is
       supplied through your local utility or through a contract with a
       retailer or a marketer. If you do have a contract, you should know
       details like who your company is, what price you're paying, the
       duration of the contract and how much energy you use monthly.

    -  Know your rights when approached by sales agents at your home.

    Agents are required to:
       -  Identify themselves
       -  Show ID with their name, the company they represent and their
          license number.
       -  Always leave consumers with their business card and, if asked, a
          copy of materials presented at the door.
    Consumers should also know:
       -  If the agents don't identify themselves, consumers should ask to
          see ID.
       -  They are not required to sign anything for the agent to leave
          information.
       -  The OEB website (www.oeb.gov.on.ca) has a list of the licensed
          retailers they can find by clicking on the "The Energy Choice is
          Yours" icon.
       -  Utilities and government agencies do not offer energy contracts.

    -  Compare prices.

       -  Electricity utility prices are set by the OEB and can change every
          six months under the Regulated Price Plan. In the natural gas
          sector, the Board may adjust utility prices every three months.
       -  When buying from an electricity retailer or gas marketer, the price
          is stated in your contract and is usually fixed for a number of
          years. The OEB licenses these companies but does not regulate the
          prices they offer.
       -  You can access historic electricity and natural gas rates charged
          by utilities on "The Energy Choice is Yours" page of the OEB's
          website (www.oeb.gov.on.ca).
       -  Read any contract and before agreeing to it, make sure you
          understand it. Don't feel rushed - know key terms and conditions
          such as the price offered, exit conditions and renewal options.
          Also make sure to read the fine print.
       -  You have a 10-day "cooling-off" period to review your decision.
          After you receive a copy of your contract, you have 10 days to
          cancel it. This is your opportunity to read the contract in detail.
          Research any questions you may have.
       -  You may need to "reaffirm" the contract in order for it to remain
          in effect. In most cases, after the 10-day cooling-off period, the
          electricity retailer or natural gas marketer will contact you (in
          most cases, by phone - and they must keep a recording of that call)
          to confirm your decision to proceed with the contract. You can say
          yes or no.

    Be aware of the time period you have to confirm or change your decision -
this should be indicated in the contract.

    IMPORTANT : Consumers are NOT required to reaffirm the decision to enter
into a contract with a retailer or marketer where:

      1.  the contact with the retailer or marketer was initiated by the
          consumer.
      2.  the consumer responds to a direct mail solicitation.
      3.  it is an Internet agreement.

    -  Keep a paper trail.
       Keep copies of all your correspondence with utilities, retailers or
       marketers.

    -  Be informed.
       If you're considering an energy contract or simply reviewing their
       supply options, you can find out more by clicking on The Energy Choice
       is Yours icon on the Board's website at oeb.gov.on.ca.
    

    The Ontario Energy Board regulates the province's electricity and natural
gas sectors in the public interest. It envisions a viable and efficient energy
sector with informed consumers served by responsive regulatory processes that
are effective, fair and transparent.
    For more information on the Board, please visit our website at
www.oeb.gov.on.ca or contact the Consumer Relations Centre at 416-314-2455 or
toll-free at 1-877-632-2727.

    FOR BROADCAST USE:
    The Ontario Energy Board reminds consumers that it is important they know
their rights and responsibilities when reviewing electricity supply options -
whether from a local utility or from an energy retailer or marketer.
    That includes knowing what to expect when approached by sales agents at
home as well as understanding the steps and obligations involved in signing
and reaffirming an energy contract. Consumers who are reviewing their supply
options can find out more by clicking on The Energy Choice is Yours icon on
the Board's website at oeb.gov.on.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Paul Crawford, Ontario Energy Board, (416)
440-7607


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