KITCHENER -- Hydro rates will return to normal levels on June 1 but the municipalities in the Region of Waterloo are continuing to offer relief programs for those struggling to cover their bills.

On March 24 the province froze time-of-use pricing in response to the pandemic. Customers were told they would be charged off-peak prices, or 10.1 cents/kWh, no matter how much electricity they used in a 24-hour period. The government then extended the rate relief to May 31.

Regular pricing will be reinstated starting on Monday. That means rates will increase from 10.1 cents/kWh to 20 cents/kWh.

Some people may still be struggling financially, and local energy companies say they’re willing to work with their customers.

“We definitely understand that these are uncertain times,” says John Finch, the Manager of Customer Care for Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro. “We are urging our customers to call in and to speak to us. We do have flexible payment options with residential small businesses and large businesses through these times. We do have options and we’ll work with everyone.”

As for other utilities, payment isn’t due until July.

“It’s everything,” says Kitchener councilor Scott Dacey. “Property taxes, gas, water.”

Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo have all extended their financial relief programs until the end of June.

Davey says thousands of residents have already used the program.

“It’s about 6% of people that are taking advantage of the property tax exemption, and it’s 17% on the utility side, having payments pushed back.”

All three cities are also waiving late and N.S.F. fees on all bills.

According to Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office, the average household saved $34 since the start of the provincial hydro rate program.