Ontario’s Electricity System

Who owns it?

Ontario’s electricity system is owned and operated by public, private and municipal corporations in Ontario.

The Ontario Ministry of Energy creates energy policy in Ontario, and the Ontario Energy Board implements it. The ministry makes sure that:

  • The energy sector is efficient and competitive.
  • The industry is environmentally sustainable.
  • There is a safe and reliable energy supply.
  • The rights of consumers are protected.

Below is a quick summary of some of the key provincial organizations and their role in Ontario’s energy sector.

Ontario Energy Board (OEB)

The OEB licenses all electricity market organizations — generators, transmitters, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). The OEB approves electricity distribution and transmission rates; mergers, acquisitions and divestitures of distributors; and transmission line construction. The board also approves the IESO’s budget and fee schedule.

To protect consumers, the OEB monitors the electricity sector and sets minimum standards of service quality for distribution companies. It reports to the Minister of Energy on the industry’s efficiency, fairness, transparency and competitiveness, and it reports any potential abuse of market power. The OEB also reviews market rules made by the IESO and hears appeals of IESO orders.

Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO)

The IESO makes sure Ontario has the energy it needs, where and when it needs it. The IESO is a not-for-profit organization formed in 1998 as part of the restructuring of Ontario’s electricity industry.

The IESO operates and regulates the wholesale electricity market to ensure it’s fair, effective and competitive. One of its key roles is to oversee Ontario’s energy prices. These prices change hourly — they’re often called “spot” market prices — depending on offers from suppliers and bids from purchasers, as well as electricity demand and availability across the province. This is why energy prices can change from hour to hour, day to night and from season to season.

What happened to Ontario Hydro?

To make Ontario’s energy market more competitive, the Ontario Electricity Act of 1998 re-organized Ontario Hydro into a number of different companies.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG)
Generates electricity and competes with other generating companies in the Ontario marketplace.

Hydro One
Transmits and distributes electricity across the province.

Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO)
A not-for-profit crown corporation (owned by the government) that ensures the fair, effective sale and purchase of power across the province. Distribution companies like Enersource then makes sure that electricity gets to your home.

Electrical Safety Authority (ESA)​
Responsible for setting electrical safety standards across Ontario.

Ontario Electricity Financial Corporationn
Also owned by the government, determines how electricity consumers pay down Ontario Hydro’s debt.

Electricity retailers

On May 1, 2002, Ontario ‘opened’ its electricity market so that more companies could compete in the market. This change has allowed customers to choose between continuing to buy electricity from their electricity distributor — like Enersource — or buy it from an independent electricity retailer. Retailers must be licensed by the Ontario Energy Board. The Ontario Energy Board continues to regulate transmission and distribution rates.

Learn more about how electricity retailers operate.

Consumer protection

You should know as an energy consumer that certain laws have been put in place for your protection. These laws are part of Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act. They make sure you pay fair, competitive prices, and they protect you when you sign a contract with an electricity retailer. All electricity retailers in Ontario must abide by the Consumer Protection Act. They must obey a code of conduct and be licensed by the Ontario Energy Board. The OEB can investigate any retailer that might be operating unfairly or illegally. If that happens, the OEB can impose a penalty, revoke or suspend the retailer’s license, or shut the retailer down. To learn more about your rights as an energy consumer, visit the Ministry of Energy website.

Learn about other organizations and their role in the energy industry.​​​