New COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program Launches for Small Business

Starting August 31st, 2020, Ontario's local gas and electric utilities began accepting applications for COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB). With $8 million in funding from the Ontario government, CEAP-SB provides a one-time bill credit of up to $425 for eligible small business customers on their electricity bill and the same amount on their gas bill, if qualified. Up to $850 is available for businesses that are electrically heated.

To be eligible for the energy assistance, the small business customer needed to be current with their electricity and/or gas bill as of March 17th 2020 and not be enrolled in any payment plan. Additionally, the customer needed to have outstanding energy charges on 2 bills and have been closed for a minimum of 15 days as a result of COVID-19.

While the program is an important step in the right direction, like the CEAP program for residential customers, there is concern that the stringent program rules may disqualify many customers who actually need the assistance. The residential version of the program that was launched July 13th remains under subscribed, likely as a result of the qualifying criteria, as well as lack of general awareness on the availability of the program.

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