HVAC Coalition Seeks Answers from Hydro One on Retail HVAC Programs

Several weeks ago, Mechanical Business magazine published a story about Hydro One, a major electricity distribution company in Ontario, endorsing three exclusive partners for the sale of residential HVAC systems (heat pumps) in their franchise area. It appears that this arrangement may be part of an outsourcing deal with an American company, but details are not well known.

The matter was brought to the attention of the HVAC Coalition of Ontario, which, as a precautionary measure, quickly filed for “late intervenor” status in Hydro One’s rate application hearing, which is currently underway before the Ontario Energy Board (EB-2021-0110).  The Coalition’s late intervention request comes in part in recognition of the fact that this is a five year rate application, meaning this hearing may present the last opportunity to raise this issue before the regulator for a very long time.

Legal counsel for the HVAC Coalition reviewed filings in this proceeding and did not find any reference to this new commercial arrangement, even though it appears from the Hydro One website that it is an activity of the regulated distribution company.  No information was filed on the financial implications of this (costs incurred, payments received from the endorsed companies, etc.).  As part of intervention request, the Coalition also filed a number of interrogatories seeking information on the scope and rationale for the retail programs and the basis for any exclusive contractual arrangements.  It is quite possible that concerns will be quickly alleviated but, as suggested above, there was also some risk in not seizing this opportunity to get those answers in a timely fashion and to put them to the test before the OEB.

The Coalition’s concern, as in the past, is mainly around the endorsement by a regulated utility of a select group of HVAC contractors, which may have the potential to undermine competition, and therefore the availability of energy-efficient equipment and services to Hydro One customers at affordable prices.

For more information, contact Martin Luymes at 1-800-267-2231 ext. 235 or email mluymes@hrai.ca.

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