Ontario Market Update: New ICI Qualifications and More

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On May 29, the OEB announced a new qualification period for Ontario’s Class A ICI program this year.

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has released new updates regarding energy programs in the province. These changes in response to the impact the pandemic has had on energy consumption patterns. The good news is that the OEB has announced measures to help companies impacted by the economic slowdown. In short, there are five main issues that you should know about.

  1. ICI Qualification Changes
  2. GA Deferral
  3. GA Increase
  4. IESO Deadline
  5. First Potential Peaks

ICI Qualification Changes

Firstly, there is the change to the qualification period for the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI). Normally, Class A participants must meet the 500kW threshold based on their average monthly usage over a 12 month adjustment period from May 1 to April 30. The new qualification period has been changed to the 10 months between May 1, 2019 and February 29, 2020 for the 2020/2021 Adjustment Period.

This means that businesses that would have been disqualified from Class A because of COVID-related energy decreases during April and May 2020 (e.g. businesses shut downs or reduced production) will still be eligible to continue in the program. This is also good for businesses near the 500kW threshold.

In recalculating average usage on the 10 month period, we’ve seen many new business qualify as Class A, accessing on average 40% in electricity savings.

GA Deferral

The second point to be aware of is that a deferral for Global Adjustment (GA) fees has been announced, with GA charges for April and May deferred; a deferral for June is also pending, with April being credited to companies. This measure aims to help reduce the financial burden facing companies in Ontario at the moment.

While the deferred amounts are to be repaid over the course of 2021, there is currently no word about any repayment scenarios.

GA Increase

A further point to keep in mind is that GA fees have risen 18% this year, which has added a further impetus for companies still on the fence about the ICI (or vacillating between Class A and B) to make a decision.

The rise in GA fees, together with ongoing market uncertainty and COVID-related energy pattern changes, throws a further wrench into company finances.

IESO Deadline

This brings us to the fourth point: the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) deadline to opt into the ICI is June 15th. This means that the deadline to sign up for the ICI is quickly approaching.

If your company is trying to decide whether to join the ICI, it needs to make a final decision soon. Consider talking to an energy consultant like EnPowered to discuss your options.

First Potential Peaks

The fifth and final point is that last Tuesday and Wednesday (May 26 and 27) were very hot in Ontario, which led to some of the first Peak calls of the season.

The number of people working from home affected normal energy use as more people than usual cranked their AC to cope with the heat. Every Peak Prediction service followed the IESO’s lead, overreacted on Wednesday, and issued Peak warnings.

The problem is that these service providers are basing their advice on the publicly available data (and charging you for it), without adequately refining this with their own algorithms.

As it stands, the IESO data was corrected multiple times over the course of the day, repeatedly reducing the severity of its ‘predicted’ Peak, until many consultants were forced to cancel their ‘Peak Calls’. On May 27 alone, it altered its forecast over 8 times.

One provider which issues colour coded warnings (the drawbacks of which we have discussed in detail) sent a ‘Red Peak Warning’ to customers, only to cancel said warning with only an hour to go: some consultants issued two or three Peak calls that week alone.

While EnPowered disagrees with these rash Peak calls, and we encourage you to track the IESO’s Peak and market response data for yourself on EnPowered’s Free Energy Portal.

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