Ontario Government Introduces the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business

 In Business Law

The Government of Ontario is making funding available to support small business and registered charitable organization customers who are having difficulty paying their energy bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB), eligible small businesses and registered charities will receive a one-time, on-bill credit to help them catch up on their energy bills.

How much can an Eligible Customer Receive?

 Small businesses and registered charities who are electricity customers may be eligible for a one-time credit equal to the electricity charges that are overdue on the date of their application, up to a maximum of $850 if their premises is primarily heated by electricity, or to a maximum of $425 otherwise.

Small businesses and registered charities who are natural gas customers may be eligible for a one-time credit equal to the natural gas charges that are overdue on the date of their application, up to a maximum of $425.

Who is Eligible for CEAP-SB?

Small business and registered charity electricity or natural gas customers are eligible for CEAP-SB if they meet all of the following criteria:

  1. The customer has an active account with an electricity distributor, a unit sub-meter provider (USMP), or a natural gas distributor.
  2. The customer’s account falls within the following class:
  • For customers of an electricity distributor, the General Service less than 50 kW rate class.
  • For customers of a USMP, the relevant commercial class that uses less than 150,000 kWh of electricity annually.
  • For customers of a natural gas distributor, is a non-residential customer that uses less than 50,000 cubic meters of gas annually.
  1. The customer has a registered business number or charitable registration number for the small business or registered charity operating out of the premises.
  2. The customer’s account was in good standing on March 17, 2020, and the customer was not enrolled in an arrears payment agreement for amount owing prior to March 17, 2020.  Customers that enrolled in an arrears payment agreement for amounts that became owing after March 17, 2020 are eligible for CEAP-SB.
  3. The customer failed to make complete payment for the electricity and/or natural gas charges on at least 2 bills issued since March 17, 2020, and has an overdue balance on the date of their application for CEAP-SB.
  4. The customer was unable to maintain regular operations and either fully closed operations at the premises, limited access to its premises, or limited the services provided or available to the public from the premises for at least 15 days as a result of a government order or inability to comply with public health recommendations.

How do I Apply for CEAP-SB?

Application forms are available online. An eligible customer should complete the applicable form and submit it directly to its electricity or natural gas utility provider or its unit sub-meter provider. It is recommended that an eligible small business or registered charity customer contact its provider directly as each provider may have different options available for submitting the application form.

Timing

Applications are expected to be processed within 10 business days of receipt, provided that the applications are complete. The credit will be applied to the next available bill issued to the customer after an application is successfully processed.

CEAP-SB funding is limited. Given that utilities and USMPs will be processing applications in the order in which they are received, it is important to apply early.

For further information of the CEAP-SB program, please visit the Ontario Energy Board’s website.

This blog post was written by Marina Abrosimov, a member of the Business Law team.  Marina can be reached at 613-369-0363 or at marina.abrosimov@mannlawyers.com.

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