10/17/2013 05:40 EDT | Updated 12/17/2013 05:12 EST

Ontario electricity rates going up Nov. 1

Hydro bills will get more expensive in Ontario starting in a couple weeks.

As of Nov. 1, the regulated price of electricity is going up 0.5 cents per kilowatt hour across the province for households and small businesses.

The Ontario Energy Board, which sets the prices, estimates that will translate into an extra $4 a month for an average household, or a three per cent increase.

The new hydro rates will still be applied according to time of use for the vast majority of consumers, but using the price schedule for winter months:

- 7.2 cents/kwh from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

- 12.9 c/kwh from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

- 10.9 c/kwh from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

- 12.9 c/kwh from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Weekends and statutory holidays have a flat rate of 7.2 c/kwh.

The board said the latest price increases stem in part from the higher price of natural gas, which accounts for about 15 per cent of the province’s electricity generation, plus the growing share of energy coming from more expensive renewable sources.

Another major factor in the price hike, the board said, has to do with its method of setting prices for six-month periods according to estimates of what it will cost to generate electricity during that time. Cost estimates for earlier this year were too high, leading to rates being higher than they should have been. So for the summer period just passed, the board kept hydro rates low to return most of the overcharge to consumers, it said.

The vast majority of electricity consumers in Ontario — more than 90 per cent of households and small businesses — pay prices set by the Ontario Energy Board. The rest have contracts with electricity retailers.