Dispelling the Myths of Sub-metering

In the ongoing pursuit by businesses for energy efficient tools to help combat climate change and find operational savings, there are few options as effective as sub-metering. Studies show when consumers are held accountable and made aware of their energy use, they’re more likely to make conscious choices to lower their consumption. Yet despite the obvious benefits of sub-metering, there remains a great deal of misinformation leading to consumer confusion in the marketplace. Below you will find the most common myths and facts to help you better understand electricity sub-metering in multi-residential buildings.

The first thing we need to understand is what exactly we’re talking about when we refer to electricity sub-metering. In multi- residential buildings, metering equipment is installed in electrical panels and closets to allow the measurement of individual unit consumption. Unlike bulk metered buildings, where the total electricity use is built into the rent and spread equally among residents, sub-metering allows residents to monitor their energy consumption and take control of their energy bills. In fact, Navigant Consulting Ltd. found that a unit in a multi-residential building (such as an apartment or condominium) converted from bulk to sub‐metering yields annual electricity savings of approximately 40 per cent in savings– savings that persist largely unchanged over time .

Myth one: sub-metering is a new practice that isn’t regulated.

Sub-metering has actually been around for years. In fact, one of the oldest and largest sub-metering companies in the Greater Toronto Area is Toronto Hydro. In addition, the sub-metering industry is highly regulated. Sub-metering companies such as Enercare are required to obtain licenses from the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) and must comply with the OEB’s code of conduct around billing, collection and disconnection practices. Sub-metering companies are also required to comply with Ontario’s Energy Consumer Protection Act, as well as other applicable legislation.

Myth two: sub-metering is expensive and there are no programs to assist low-income families.

Charges from competitive sub-metering companies in Ontario are much lower than other provinces, and are often lower than fees charged by city-owned utilities. The rates charged by local distribution companies for electricity delivery and administration of the sub-metering programs are set by these companies and approved by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).

There are a number of programs available to support low-income households with affording electricity, such as the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) and the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP). The OESP provides monthly on-bill credit to reduce the cost of the electricity bill , while LEAP is a one-time grant for those behind on their electricity or natural gas bills and facing a suspension of their services. If electricity costs were included as part of a customer’s rent, these programs would not be available.

In addition to these programs, there are special rules in place to protect lower income residents, such as waiving security deposits and allowing longer payment times under payment plans. Other important rules to note:

• You cannot have your electricity supply disconnected without having 10 days’ notice.
• You’re entitled to have your security deposit returned if you have one year of good payment history.
• You must be provided with payment options, including an equal monthly payment plan. If you are overdue on paying your bills and facing disconnection, the utility must offer you the chance to go on a payment plan.

Myth three: there’s no way to know if a company is reputable or not

As with any service, it is incredibly important to select a reputable sub-metering provider that is transparent about fees and charges. The OEB has an Enforcement Process, which publishes information about energy companies that are not, or have not followed the rules since 2008. The rates charged by local distribution companies for electricity delivery and administration of the sub-metering programs are set by these companies and approved by the Ontario Energy Board.

The truth is that sub-metering actually gives the power back to the people by allowing them to monitor, control and, most importantly, only pay for the energy they consume. At the end of the month, those who conserve energy are rewarded in the form of a lower electricity bill, all while contributing to a positive impact on the environment.

Originally published on LinkedIn by John Piercy, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Enercare Connections.